Matthew Theunissen is a business reporter

Woman awarded $13k after being fired over health concerns

A woman has been awarded $13,500 after being found to have been unjustifiably dismissed due to her health issues. Photo / 123RF
A woman has been awarded $13,500 after being found to have been unjustifiably dismissed due to her health issues. Photo / 123RF

A woman who worked with disabled violent offenders has been awarded $13,500 after being found to have been unjustifiably dismissed due to her health issues.

Lynette Crozier claimed she was discriminated against by Idea Services Limited (ISL) when in 2014 she lost her job of 23 years due to concerns over an ongoing respiratory condition.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) upheld this complaint and ordered she be remunerated for three months' lost wages, finding the company did not establish that Crozier's medical condition would compromise her own or other staff members' safety.

When carrying out its investigation the company set out five criteria that must be met in order for Crozier to be effective in the role: walking with clients for up to 5km to and from activities; catching public transport; following or supporting clients at a steady pace; working on her feet for 2-4 hours; and using physical restraining with clients.

The company found that she was only able to meet two of these requirements without difficulty. However, Crozier claimed that she had been undertaking her duties without incident since her health issues were first brought to the company's attention more than three years prior to her dismissal.

The ERA concluded that because her job description did not set out these five requirements, they could not be relied upon in the company's decision to dismiss Crozier.

"An employer acting fairly and reasonably could not have taken the action of setting the five requirements outside what was specified in the job description and then applying them only to Ms Crozier and not to other employees," the ERA's decision said. "This action was unjustified and amounted to discrimination."

The ERA found that the company's investigation fell short of the required standard, stating that more could have been done such as including Crozier's doctor in the medical analysis.

- NZ Herald

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