Woman wins landmark depression case

By Yang Kuo-wenand Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Fri, Oct 19, 2012 - Page 4

Citing work-related depression because of unfair practices, an employee on Wednesday won a landmark court case — the first time a labor compensation case for depression caused by the workplace as stipulated in the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) had been won.

The case involved an employee at Unitech PCB Corp, surnamed Chen (陳), who was in a managerial position, but was demoted to a lower rank, leading to her depression.

In a ruling in a lower court, the judge ruled against Chen, who appealed the decision.

Overturning the ruling on Wednesday, the High Court said there was a cause-and-effect relationship between Chen’s depression and work-related occupational illness.

The court ruled that Unitech must compensate Chen NT$2.37 million for her emotional distress, her medical expenses and for unfair dismissal.

The ruling can be appealed.

A Unitech spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Chen’s lawyer, Lin San-chia (林三加), said the case had taken four years to pass through the judicial process and that it had become a symbolic case for workers.

“It is the first successful case to have compensation awarded for depression under the act,” Lin said.

Chen’s husband said the couple were cheered by the decision, adding that his wife still wanted to get a job and earn a regular wage, but because of her condition she is not able to do so and that he does not want her to.

She is only doing some odd jobs here and there, but they are getting by financially, he said.

Chen started her job in quality control at Unitech in 1999. After receiving A’s for six years in a row in her performance evaluations, she was promoted in 2005.

However, she had a dispute with a co-worker in 2006, leading to her demotion and a cut in wages as she was removed from her position.

Chen said she was insulted by her supervisor, was transferred to a new section and was treated like “garbage,” causing her to weep and contemplate suicide.

She claimed she was unfairly dismissed in 2009 and a hospital diagnosed that she was suffering from “neurotic depression” caused by work-related stress.

She then sued Unitech for compensation, in accordance with the Workers Incurring Occupational Accidents Act (職業災害勞工保護法).

Unitech argued that Chen was unsuited to a managerial position and transferred her to another section.

During the proceedings, the High Court requested that National Taiwan University Hospital determine the cause of Chen’s depression and it said there was a more than a 50 percent chance her condition was work-related.