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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 April 23 - 29  > Court orders Toshiba to pay compensation for worker’s depression
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2008 April 23 - 29 [LABOR]

Court orders Toshiba to pay compensation for worker’s depression

April 23, 2008
The Tokyo District Court on April 22 ruled that Toshiba Corp. is liable for a woman worker’s depression caused by excessively heavy workloads and that her dismissal on the grounds that her leave of absence expired is invalid, and ordered the electronics giant to pay unpaid wages in back pay as well as damages.

Presiding Judge Suzuki Takuji recognized that Shigemistu Yumi, a 41-year-old engineer who worked at Toshiba’s Fukaya factory in Saitama Prefecture, was suffering from depression was ‘work-related’ because she was forced to work more than 90 extra hours a month.

He also recognized that the employer neglected its obligation to pay attention to the employee’s safety in the workplace in violation of Article 19 of the Labor Standards Law which restricts employers from dismissing workers who are taking a leave of absence for medical treatment of work-related diseases.

Shigemitsu’s lawyers said that this is the first ruling to disapprove a dismissal that uses work-related disease as the pretext.

When Shigemitsu was assigned in 2000 to a project for setting up a production line, overtime work and holiday work drastically increased. In April 2001, she was diagnosed as suffering from severe depression. In September 2001, she finally took a sick leave of absence. In September 2004, Toshiba dismissed her on the grounds that her leave of absence expired.

At a news conference following the ruling, Shigemitsu said, “I appreciate the court order although it took a long time to have my claim recognized. I want Toshiba to acknowledge that its work place had problems and to take steps to prevent the recurrence of such abuses.”

Shigemitsu’s lawyer, Kawahito Hiroshi emphasized, “This ruling is an important warning to companies at a time when many employers tend to dismiss workers when they suffer from depression due to overwork.”
- Akahata, April 23, 2008
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