An HR professional at Intel, the world’s largest computer chip maker, has been awarded more than £114,000 after she became so stressed at work she had a nervous breakdown.
Tracy Daw had worked at Intel’s UK head office in Swindon for 12 years when in 2000 she was given the job of integrating the payroll and benefits of new staff acquired by Intel during its company takeovers and mergers.
By the following year Shaw claimed the workload was so high she was doing the job of nearly two people and had a nervous breakdown in June 2001 after receiving no help from the company.
Daw won the case despite Intel offering a free counselling service for staff who felt stressed.
“I was just so angry that they’d let me down and put me in this situation, even though I had done everything I could to flag up the problems I was having,” she said.
Tim Dixon, senior partner at law firm Lemon & Co, which represented Daw, said it had become more difficult for people to sue employers for work-related stress in recent years.
“The difficulty with this type of case is that the employee has to prove not only that they were given too much work, but that the stress they were under was likely to make them ill, and that their boss knew it,” said Dixon.
“Luckily Tracy Daw is a stickler for detail, and had kept notes of every e-mail and meeting where she was asking for help. A judge agreed there had been negligence, and we won.”
He warned employers that providing services such free counselling could not be used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card in work-related stress claims.
“This judgment shows that in cases of overwork bosses can’t rely on that any more – if they know someone is in trouble, they should and must act,” he said.