Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

Nurse awarded $9000 for unjustified dismissal

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A charge nurse who was trespassed from a Nelson rest home following allegations of abusive and intimidating behaviour has been awarded more than $9000 in compensation for unjustified dismissal.

Wendy Vollmer was dismissed from her job at The Wood Life Care rest home in October last year following allegations of serious misconduct.

The rest home alleged she had been abusive, intimidating and unprofessional towards the rest home's facility manager during a disagreement over leave in August.

It claimed she had failed to follow the home's policies for recording infections at the facility, which was her duty as its infection control co-ordinator.

It also alleged Ms Vollmer had an ongoing recent history of inappropriate communication and unprofessional behaviour towards other staff.

A disciplinary meeting was set down for later that month, but Ms Vollmer was unable to attend due to illness.

Five days later, before she was due to return to work, Ms Vollmer received an email from The Wood's general manager instructing her not to return before a rescheduled disciplinary meeting.

The manager informed Ms Vollmer she would continue to be paid while on leave.

Ms Vollmer then sought advice from her lawyer, who told her she could return to work.

When she did so, the rest home's general manager called Ms Vollmer and told her she was suspended from work.

She refused to leave, after which the facility manager called police.

Ms Vollmer left when police arrived, and was later served with a two-year trespass notice at her home.

A disciplinary meeting was held in early September and Ms Vollmer was dismissed the following month.

The Employment Relations Authority has now found The Wood was unjustified in suspending and later dismissing Ms Vollmer.

Authority member Christine Hickey said none of the three allegations against Ms Vollmer had amounted to serious misconduct.

She said the procedures for dealing with performance issues were not followed and the rest home had not acted fairly in dismissing her.

Ms Hickey said the trespass notice suggested some predetermination on the rest home's part, and Ms Vollmer had been unjustifiably disadvantaged by the suspension.

She ordered the rest home to pay Ms Vollmer $9375 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and hurt feelings.

Ms Hickey also ordered the company to pay her 36 weeks of wages from the date of dismissal.

Costs were reserved.


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