SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Korea Bizwire) — The appellate court reversed a lower court’s decision on a case where a working mom hired as a probationary employee was not taken on as a regular employee after refusing to work on weekends to take care of her children.
Seoul High Court, in a case filed by a local highway tollgate management firm against the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) calling to revoke decision to fire the probationary employee, overturned the original ruling and decided in favor of the plaintiff.
The management firm, after hiring a female probationary employee who was raising two children of 1 and 6 years old in 2017, fired her for refusing to show up at work five times during her 3-month probation period.
The NLRC claimed that it was unfair to fire the female worker. In response, the firm filed a lawsuit against the commission.
Both the lower and the appellate court accepted the firm’s argument that the female worker refused to show up on holidays and for evening shifts, which was not acceptable without proper justification.
The courts differed, however, on their views on the ‘rationality’ of the firm’s decision to consider this as a basis to fire her.
The appellate court deemed that it was a rational decision for the company to fire her considering that there were no documents or evidence that she provided as justification for not being able to show up at work on holiday shifts to take care of her children, and she did not request a leave of absence.
In addition, the court pointed out that following company notification that it does not condone any unsolicited absence, she did not show up for an evening shift without making any effort to take alternative measures.
Unlike the lower court’s decision, the appellate court deemed that the employee should have first notified the company of her situation and try to work it out.
“Considering the nature of work that she was in charge of, it is difficult to see that the company failed to help her maintain her work and life balance and forced her to choose between work and raising a child,” said the court.
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)