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Samsung apologies to sickened chip workers

Samsung Electronics took the rare step of issuing a public apology to the families of those whose loved ones were workers in its semiconductor chip factories who had developed cancers. The apology was unprecedented with regard to the growing issue of cancer cases that workers have developed during their time with the company.

For years, Samsung had resisted calls for the company to pay compensation for workers who have fallen ill, but a movement began to gain momentum after a 23-year-old worker developed leukemia after working in a chip factory. Because of this, the recent apology marks an abrupt shift in policy. Samsung insists that its latest statement is not an admission of any sort to the notion that there is a link between its chip factories and the possibility of developing cancer. 

While the Samsung matter is governed by the law in South Korea, it still has some importance in the United States. Apologies are rare because of the possibility that they can be construed as admissions of guilt in the context of a negligence claim. Because of this, it is critically important for employers to limit or carefully construct statements of contrition so that the possibility of a lawsuit can be mitigated.

For employees, situations like these can possibly validate claims for workers’ compensation benefits. Indeed, cancer can be such a slow moving disease that it may not manifest itself until years after a person was first exposed to hazardous materials.

Nevertheless, employers must be diligent in communicating with employees to understand the hazards they endure and the injuries that they are subject to. 

Source: “Samsung apologizes to sickened chip workers, promises compensation,” Youkyoung Lee, May 14, 2014

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