S. Korean high court con­nects ex-Sam­sung worker’s MS to her job

For­mer em­ployee at an LCD fac­tory first be­gan hav­ing symp­toms at 21.

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - By Youkyung Lee Sam­sung

South Korea’s Supreme Court said a for­mer worker in a Sam­sung LCD fac­tory who was di­ag­nosed with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis should be rec­og­nized as hav­ing an oc­cu­pa­tion­ally caused dis­ease, over­turn­ing lower courts’ ver­dicts that held lack of ev­i­dence against the worker.

In a mile­stone de­ci­sion that could aid other sick­ened tech work­ers strug­gling to prove the cause of their dis­eases, the Supreme Court ruled that there was a sig­nif­i­cant link be­tween Lee Hee-jin’s dis­ease and work­place haz­ards and her work­ing con­di­tions.

Lower courts had de­nied her claim, partly be­cause no records of her work­place con­di­tions were pub­licly avail­able. The La­bor Min­istry and Sam­sung re­fused to dis­close them when a lower court re­quested the in­for­ma­tion, cit­ing trade se­crets.

In its rul­ing Tues­day, the court said a lack of ev­i­dence, re­sult­ing from Sam­sung’s re­fusal to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about work­place con­di­tions, cit­ing trade se­crets, and an inad­e­quate in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the gov­ern­ment should not be held against the sick­ened worker.

In­stead, it said, such spe­cial cir­cum­stances should be con­sid­ered in fa­vor of the worker.

Lee, 33, be­gan to work at a Sam­sung LCD fac­tory in Cheo­nan, south of Seoul, in 2002 when she was a high school se­nior. She eval­u­ated nearly 100 dis­play pan­els per hour on a con­veyor belt, look­ing for de­fec­tive pan­els and wip­ing them with a chem­i­cal sub­stance known as iso­propyl al­co­hol.

Three years after she joined Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics, she first re­ported the symp­toms of mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, a rare dis­ease that af­fects the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem, which is di­ag­nosed among

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