February 20, 2017
In a lawsuit filed in late December 2016, two former Microsoft employees allege the development of post-traumatic stress disorder from reviewing and reporting content such as child pornography, bestiality and murder.
While Microsoft concedes the work is difficult, the company contends the position safeguards the internet experience of users. As such, Microsoft has outlined a number of protections for employees. Furthermore, Microsoft states that this work comprises no one’s future full-time occupation and that individuals can be reassigned upon request.
The lawsuit, filed by former employees Henry Soto and Greg Blauert, alleges that they were traumatized by the images they saw and that Microsoft did not adequately warn them or provide them with adequate protection.
Soto and Blaurert claim that employees would benefit from additional counseling and extended time off after serving in this monitoring capacity. They further argue that if Microsoft were to incorporate this monitoring team into its Digital Crimes Unit, the company could easily absorb the costs of counseling.
According to the motion, neither Blauert nor Soto are fit for work and both have difficulty working with computers. Both allege that they suffer from anxiety and depression, withdraw from others and struggle in their relationships due to the PTSD. Their lawsuit seeks compensation for health care and lost income. Furthermore, the pair wants to see Microsoft implement improved measures to ensure employee safety.
Microsoft disagrees with the plaintiffs’ claims, citing that it takes the health of its employees seriously. Microsoft explains that Soto and Blauert were very successful as Online Safety operatives, but the job was taking a toll on them. Mr. Soto suffered from sleep deprivation and other psychological disorders. Mr. Blauert experienced nightmares and hallucinations. Both added that their maladies exceeded the realm of “occupational diseases.”
When job expectations and responsibilities go beyond the realm of reasonable requirements, you might need a lawyer to help you determine your rights. If your physical and mental health have suffered as a result of your work, contact us for further help regarding pursuing a case based on relevant employment and workers’ compensation laws.