Court hears woman's case against Ikea

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A court hearing over a woman's lawsuit against Ikea regarding a miscarriage she said she had was held on Thursday in Tianhe district, in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province.

Jiang Li, 34, a former manager at the furniture and family article giant, filed the lawsuit in May.

She is seeking compensation for a miscarriage she said she had last year.

Jiang said doctors told her in July last year that her fetus had died.

"The content of methanol in my office was inspected and found to be above the State's standard, and that is the culprit that caused my miscarriage," Jiang told the court.

Jiang is seeking 105,801 yuan (US$16,794). She wants damages of 50,000 yuan and medical fees of 55,801 yuan. She also wants a public apology from Ikea.

Ikea, however, said Jiang had an unhealthy lifestyle and she had an abortion of her own accord. It said Jiang had many chances to come in contact with methanol outside the workplace, and there was no evidence that exposure to methanol would cause a miscarriage.

"Many female Ikea staff have successfully given birth to their children while working at the company over the past years," Ikea told the court.

The court did not hand down a verdict in the hearing, the case's second. The first hearing was held in the same court on Sept 22.

Wu Riquan, a local lawyer, said Jiang had to prove the miscarriage she said she had was caused by a poor working environment at Ikea, "otherwise, there was only a slim chance for her to win".

Jiang, who married in 2006, was employed as a supervisor at Ikea in December 2005. She was promoted to manager in Ikea's product maintenance department six months later.

Jiang said she worked in a 200-square-meter underground room that had no windows. The room housed many pieces of furniture and other articles returned by customers.

Jiang learned she was pregnant in April last year, but said she had a miscarriage on July 1. Jiang said doctors told her that the miscarriage might have been caused by the high content of methanol in the room where she worked. Methanol was present because it is used in the production of furniture.

In November, Jiang had Shenzhen GD Testing Co check the air in the room she worked. She said the findings showed that the methanol level was three times over the State's standard.

After Jiang had the air checked, Ikea told her that her contract would be terminated. Jiang left Ikea in January.

She has also applied for labor arbitration.

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