Hon Hai Precision Industry Co has lost a lawsuit over chairman Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) firing of a top executive for missing a meeting, with the Supreme Court yesterday ordering the company to compensate the executive about NT$17.95 million (US$581,999) in severance pay and stock options.
The court in its final verdict upheld a decision by the High Court in favor of Gary Hsieh (謝冠宏), former general manager for Hon Hai’s Innovation Green Digital Business Group (IGDBG).
Hsieh now serves as chairman of audio electronics producer 1More Technology Co.
Hsieh sued Hon Hai after Guo fired him in 2012, saying that he did not receive severance pay or compensation.
In an affidavit, Hsieh said that the company had contravened the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) and that he was entitled to collect severance pay, along with stock options and a salary bonus granted to executives.
In the first ruling on the case, the New Taipei City District Court in July 2014 determined that Guo and the company did not break the law when Guo fired Hsieh over a misunderstanding regarding a day off, but ordered that the company pay NT$1.9 million in compensation to Hsieh.
Guo directed the company to appeal the ruling, and in July 2016, the High Court ruled that the company had contravened labor laws, requiring it to compensate Hsieh NT$1.5 million in severance pay, as well as 235 lots of 1,000 shares in the company — the stock options promised as part of Hsieh’s executive pay package.
The Supreme Court’s final verdict upheld the second ruling, which is to cost the company about NT$17.95 million based on the company’s closing stock price of NT$70 yesterday.
Prior to his dismissal, Hsieh was a top aide to Guo and had worked at the company for 10 years.
Hsieh in 2012 had applied for time off from Oct. 22 to 25 to travel to Japan, but his secretary accidentally filed for Oct. 23 to 25, the affidavit said.
According to court documents, Guo convened a top-level executive meeting on Oct. 22, at which he called Hsieh to ask where he was.
Hsieh told Guo that he was seated on a flight that was about to take off, then in front of executives at the meeting, Guo reportedly told Hsieh that he had two choices: get off the airplane and return to the meeting, or “if you do not return, then you do not need to come to the company anymore.”
Hsieh apologized and asked for understanding, as it was impossible for him to get off the plane since the door was already closed, documents showed.
Shortly after their conversation, Guo announced to everyone at the meeting that Hsieh had been dismissed, they showed.
In court, the company argued that the labor act did not apply to Hsieh, as he was not a regular contracted employee.
His role as IGDBG general manager was an “appointed position” to supervise more than 200,000 workers in the division’s factory in China’s Shenzhen, for which he did not have to clock in or out, it said.
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