However, the sentence has been suspended for three years, meaning that if she doesn’t commit another crime in that time, she won’t go to prison.
According to prosecutors, Lee’s charges included using profane language, shouting and physically hurting employees including her chauffeur, and physically assaulting her gardener by throwing plants and metal shears at him. The offenses occurred between 2011 and 2018, prosecutors said.
Korean Air said it would not comment on Lee’s sentence.
Lee is the third prominent member of the Korean Air dynasty to be accused of abusing staff.
She served five months of a one-year prison sentence after a South Korean court found her guilty of violating aviation law. After the flight attendant Park Chang-jin testified against Cho, he was demoted. In 2018, a court ruled that the demotion was legal, but awarded him $18,000 in damages for coercion and assault.
She apologized, saying what she did was “foolish.” Both sisters were fired from Korean Air by their father after the scandals.
Lee and her daughters are not the only elite family accused of abusing their staff.
According to Kim Eun-jung, an economy and labor specialist with the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy civic group, some chaebol owners run these major conglomerates as their own personal domains, with few external limits on their powers.
Kim said that past governments have enabled this pattern of abuse.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has repeatedly promised to tackle problems with the chaebol system and root out gapjil — a Korean word for those in power who lord over their underlings — which he has described as a “leading workplace evil.”
In 2017, a survey by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea found that over 73% of respondents had experienced harassment in the past year, while a quarter experienced harassment more than once a week.
— Jake Kwon, Sophie Jeong and Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report.