Feeds

Intel owed depressed employee more than counselling

Failure of management created the stresses

High performance access to file storage

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.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.