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Foxconn goes to court over severely injured worker

The company has tried to move the worker, but his father says his current condition makes travel nearly impossible.

Foxconn operates factories in several Chinese cities, including two campuses in Shenzhen. This is the gate of one of the Shenzhen factories.
Foxconn operates factories in several Chinese cities, including two campuses in Shenzhen. This is the gate of one of the Shenzhen factories.
Jay Greene/CNET

The father of a Foxconn employee who was severely injured at one of the company's factories took the manufacturer to court today, according to a report.

Zhang Guangde, father of the injured Zhang Tingzhen, today argued in a Chinese court that his son should not be moved to another facility and that Foxconn should be required to continue to pay his hospital bills. Reuters was first to report on the case.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Zhang Tingzhen was trying to fix a spotlight on a wall in Foxconn's Shenzhen factory, when he was hit with a massive electrical shock. After falling 12 feet, Zhang suffered major brain damage, requiring doctors to remove half of his brain to keep him alive.

Since the accident, Foxconn had been paying for Zhang's medical bills. However, earlier this month, the company text-messaged his family, saying that it would cut off payments unless he moves from the more-expensive Shenzhen area to Huizhou, which is 43 miles away.

Zhang's father has argued that his son is incapable of traveling. He also believes that Foxconn, which has come under fire by the Fair Labor Association for its treatment of employees, should continue to pay for his son's medical bills. The company, however, has said that it would not pay for his bills in Shenzhen any longer because he wasn't hired there -- another claim Zhang's father rejects.

"Our evidence includes hospital correspondences, notice of hospitalization, factory salary slips, colleague declarations, they all point to the time and place of his injury and his employment being in Shenzhen," the father's attorney Zhang Xiaotan said today, according to Reuters.

According to Reuters, Chinese companies often hire workers in low-wage areas to work in higher-priced cities to reduce expenses. Foxconn has denied it has followed that practice in the case of Zhang.

Earlier this month, Foxconn defended its actions in this case when a spokesperson told CNET:

Companies in China are mandated to buy insurance for employees directly through the government social insurance program, so the company does not benefit from the employee receiving a lower compensation or from the employee getting his assessment in a location with lower compensation.

As the insurance compensation provided by the government varies between locations, Foxconn has assured the family that it will voluntarily make up for any difference in compensation that is paid out from the social insurance in Huizhou versus Shenzhen where his injuries were sustained. While this is not required by law, we are doing this because we believe it is in the best interest of Mr. Zhang.

Foxconn is one of the world's largest manufacturers, assembling products for a host of companies, including Apple and Microsoft.

CNET has contacted Foxconn on the court battle. We will update this story when we have more information.