10/07/2015

Transfer of Employee in Korea to Lower Position in Company May not be Wrongful Termination: Seoul High Court Precedence

The Seoul High Court, recently, ruled that the transfer of an employee from the position of vice president of a security guard company to the position of Supervisor of an apartment complex managed by the security guard company does not equate to an "unreasonable transfer" if the transfer was necessary because of "human resources or management necessity." 

Mr. Choi was dismissed by a security guard company for, among other things, allegations of accepting bribes.  The Korean Labor Commission ruled that the firing was a wrongful dismissal and ordered Mr. Choi to be reinstated.  During the period of Mr. Choi's termination, the company reorganized and eliminated Mr. Choi's vice president position within the company.

Upon Mr. Choi's return to work he was ordered to be a Supervisor within an apartment complex.  The company, however, maintained the same pay and retirement age as his previous job.

In ruling in favor of the company the Seoul High Court opined that: "It seems like a necessity in line with the company's human resources or managerial needs. . . In accordance with the employment rules, the new position does not guarantee the same level of wages and the retirement age of the former position, which is 62 years.  But, Choi would not be disadvantaged in life with the new position because the company promised to maintain the previous salary and the same retirement age."

The decision may make it easier for employers to transfer employees to less desirable positions in a company.
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Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.

Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty. Sean is ranked, for Korea, as one of only two non-Korean lawyers as a Top Attorney by AsiaLaw. Sean's profile may be found at: Sean C. Hayes

Transfer of Employee in Korea to Lower Position in Company May not be Wrongful Termination: Seoul High Court Precedence