Law & Policy

China Media: IBM Breaches Chinese Law By Firing Sick Employee

Accused of discriminating against a Chinese employee with depression, IBM (IBM) China has been sued at the Shanghai Pudong New Zone Labor Arbitration Commission.

According to Sina.com, the unnamed employee signed a five-year labor contract with IBM in 2006 after his graduation from a famous university in Hubei Province and began to work as an R&D engineer for IBM Shanghai. However, because of the heavy work pressure at IBM, the employee soon was diagnosed with depression. After that, he submitted a resignation application to IBM to give him time to cure his illness, but IBM proposed he change the resignation into an extended sick leave. When the employee's health returned and he asked to go back to IBM with the doctor's suggestion of working while receiving therapy, his request was turned down by IBM. After a number of fruitless negotiations with IBM's top management on resuming his duties, his health became worse. He even once attempted suicide after a meeting with the company's top management.

On February 27, 2008, IBM Shanghai issued a notice to the employee, saying that the company would terminate the labor contract with him because he had broken the company's disciplines and seriously affected the company's normal work order. Believing that IBM China was discriminating against him for his depression, the employee has now sued, asking for IBM to continue fulfilling the labor contract with him, compensate him for past salary and pay him emotional compensation.

SPNZLAC has reportedly made a judgment, requiring IBM China to continue to implement the labor contract with the employee while also paying him four months' salary and bonuses totaling CNY57,332.

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