Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a journalist based in Auckland.

Postie awarded compo after bullying claims

Photo / File
Photo / File

A long-serving postie accused of wearing the wrong uniform and taking too long to deliver the mail has been awarded $4000 in compensation.

Lynda Hunt, a postie in Christchurch for about 35 years, claimed she was bullied by a "vindictive, obsessive" team leader at NZ Post's Saint Asaph St branch.

She raised a personal grievance before the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), alleging she was disadvantaged by the alleged bullying, a performance improvement plan, two written warnings, and the investigation into her bullying claim.

The ERA heard the team leader had raised a number of issues with Ms Hunt in February last year, including the time she took to sort and deliver mail, which the leader blamed for her "excessive and unjustified" paid overtime.

The leader issued Ms Hunt with a performance improvement plan and threatened her with disciplinary action if she did not sign her daily activity dockets.

Later that month, the team leader told posties they should wear only newly issued uniforms while on their rounds.

In March, a manager saw Ms Hunt leaving the branch wearing an old NZ Post fleece, having lent her new one to a colleague.

The team leader caught up with Ms Hunt on her round and asked her to remove the fleece, which she did before cycling off midway through the conversation.

A written warning was issued after a disciplinary meeting.

The following month, Ms Hunt raised bullying and harassment allegations, claiming the team leader was seizing any opportunity "to report, reprimand or threaten me with warning letters".

She claimed the team leader had been micro-managing her and following her, even to the toilet.

Ms Hunt said the leader had made 82 pages of notes about her, and described her actions as "discriminating, vindictive, obsessive and frankly quite creepy".

The bullying claim was investigated by NZ Post's human resources consultant, but found to be unsubstantiated.

Ms Hunt was issued a final warning, for unauthorised absence in October last year after she took 25 minutes off to buy a stress remedy from a health shop.

The ERA found Ms Hunt was not disadvantaged by either of the two written warnings, the performance improvement plan, or the outcome of the bullying investigation.

But it found she was disadvantaged by being threatened with disciplinary action for not having signed her dockets.

It also found Ms Hunt was disadvantaged because she was not told why she was disciplined for her uniform breach, while other posties were not. Her complaint about the apparent disparity was also not investigated.

The ERA ordered NZ Post to pay $4000 to Ms Hunt in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and hurt feelings.

- APNZ

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