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.
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