Feeds

Intel owed depressed employee more than counselling

Failure of management created the stresses

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Simply providing counselling for employees does not absolve companies of responsibility for their employees, the UK's Court of Appeal has ruled. The Court found that Intel was responsible for a worker's breakdown even though it provided counselling.

"The respondent, a loyal and capable employee, pointed out the serious management failings which were causing her stress and the failure to take action was that of management," said Lord Justice Pill in his ruling. "The reference to counselling services in [similar case] Hatton does not make such services a panacea by which employers can discharge their duty of care in all cases."

Intel must pay now compensation to Tracy Ann Daw, the employee who suffered from stress and depression when her workload shot up following company cost-cutting. The chip giant has lost its appeal against last year's ruling in the employee's favour.

Daw worked in the finance department of the company and was responsible for integrating the payroll functions of companies which Intel acquired. Daw told the original trial that she felt she was doing the work of two people, working 60-hour weeks and into the small hours at home.

Daw had suffered from post-natal depression on two occasions, and one of her managers knew this. When that manager found Daw in tears he asked her to put in writing what was wrong.

She wrote an email which outlined the excessive work that was being demanded of her and concluded: "I cannot sustain doing the level of work that I am currently doing. No-one is getting a particularly good service, I am not enjoying what I am doing, bureaucracy is stressing me out (evidenced by my violent mood swings – bad sign … been here before – twice"), HR/PX [human resources and another manager] are demoralising me and I want out".

The original court decision, and the Court of Appeal, found that Daw's manager should have known that the reference to having been there twice before was to the post-natal depression; should have known that Daw's workload was excessive; and should have acted to protect Daw.

Pill said that Daw was very obviously not the kind of employee to attempt to exaggerate or invent a problem with stress. "She was loyal and regarded by them as of the highest calibre, with a capacity for hard work. She wished to remain in her employment with them and had prospects of promotion," he said.

"In my judgment, the judge was fully entitled to hold that it was a failure of management which created the stresses and led to the breakdown. The judge was entitled to hold that, by early March, injury to the respondent's health was reasonably foreseeable. The indications of impending harm to health were plain enough for the appellants to realise that immediate action was required," said Pill.

"The case is a reminder for employers that they must act in the context of all the information they have about an employee", said Ben Doherty, an employment specialist at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM.

"This underlines that employers do owe their employees a duty of care, and must even take into account events and conditions that take place outside the workplace," said Doherty. "Employers who are told of such conditions must be careful to make allowances for them in their treatment of employees."

Daw was awarded £134,545.18 in compensation and in lost future earnings. Intel also appealed against that award figure, but Pill upheld the original award.

See: The judgment

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.