Nurse demoted for bullying loses grievance claim

By Heather McCracken

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A clinical charge nurse at North Shore Hospital's intensive care unit who was demoted for bullying has lost a grievance case against her employer.

Helen Margaret Jones was removed from her $100,000 a year job by Waitemata District Health Board after complaints of bullying from other staff.

She took a claim to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) that the action was unjustified.

Ms Jones' role as clinical charge nurse of the intensive care unit and high dependency unit at North Shore Hospital involved overseeing and managing other nursing staff.

In November 2011, four written grievances against her were filed within six days.

Ms Jones was asked to respond to the complaints, but her response was largely made up of character references from colleagues, the authority determination said.

The board then conducted a formal inquiry, which also looked into historic incidents and concluded a total of 16 complaints of bullying had been made.

Ms Jones claimed that four of the complainants had collaborated, but the board said the fact the complainants knew each other was no reason to discredit them.

The board accepted the report's finding of persistent, unreasonable and unwelcome behaviour over a period of time, and removed Ms Jones from her position.

At a meeting with her, she was offered two alternative positions, and a temporary role was agreed to pending the resolution of her personal grievance against the board.

Ms Jones objected to the board's investigation process, including that the investigator was not independent, that each of the complaints should have been looked at individually, and that historic information was used when she was given an assurance only the current complaints were being considered.

In his determination, ERA member James Crichton said he was satisfied that the board had dealt with the complaints appropriately, gave Ms Jones opportunity to have input, and made a fair and reasonable decision to remove her from the role.

The grievance claim was dismissed.

- APNZ

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