In a blow for the South Korean tech giant, the Korea Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service ruled that an employee, identified only by her last name Kim, will receive compensation from Samsung. The health agency said that her five years of employment at the company put her at increased risk for breast cancer and that the tech company was responsible for her cancer and subsequent death earlier this year. The health agency did not release the compensation amount that she received, but sources say that the agency normally amounts money equivalent to about four years of pay.
The former employee died in March at the age of 36. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer three years prior, an unusually young age to develop the disease. She had worked at a Samsung semiconductor plant for five years, between 1995 and 2000. Her name was not released out of respect to the family's wishes.
The agency said that the plant caused her to be exposed to organic solvents and radiation. They also noted research published earlier this year that found that working the night shift is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Kim typically worked eight to 12-hour shifts, often working shifts that would start at 10 P.M. and end at 6 A.M. An activist group stated that she worked at a plant without a radiation detector and was often exposed to benozene and other carcinogens.
Samsung announced that they would not appeal the decision.
The move is only the second time that the agency has ruled on a link between health issues and the Samsung plants. The first time was in April, when the health agency ruled that the company was responsible for an employee's aplastic anemia. The organization, which is the largest manufacturer of computer memory chips, is currently besieged by complaints. Nearly 30 South Korean employees say that working at their plants caused them to develop rare forms of diseases like multiple sclerosis and brain tumors.
The decision will likely invigorate people awaiting decisions for their own complaints against Samsung.