A health care assistant formerly employed by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board has been awarded $7500 after being unjustifiably constructively dismissed.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled the district health board did not follow proper procedures when it dealt with a complaint made against Wendy Rahiri.

The health board denied Ms Rahiri was unjustifiably dismissed and claimed she was a casual employee who had resigned voluntarily.

Ms Rahiri began working for the district health board as a casual health care assistant on September 9, 2013.


She told the authority she initially worked differing shifts each week, but from mid-January 2015 only worked night shifts due to her personal circumstances.

On March 13, 2015, Ms Rahiri said she was telephoned by Tauranga Hospital coordinator Julie Williams and told there were two complaints made about her, one from a patient.

Ms Rahiri said she immediately asked for more information about the nature of the complaints, but Ms Williams told her she could not say more at that stage.

She was also informed she would only be offered morning shifts when there were more employees and would be under observation "for everybody's safety".

Ms Williams told the authority it was standard practice while a complaint was still being investigated.

Ms Rahiri said she received no information about the nature of the complaints and was anxious as she received no further offer of work.

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At an April 15 meeting with Ms Rahiri and her support person, attended by Ms Williams and the board's human relations manager Nick Cockcroft, she was provided with a copy of the complaint report.

She was relieved to see it was marked "minor" and noted there was only one complaint from a colleague, not a patient.

Ms Williams said she told Ms Rahiri it was a minor issue, and she was unlikely to lose her job.

Ms Rahiri had denied all aspects of the complaint, resulting in the need for a formal investigation, Ms Williams said.

In a letter dated the same day, Ms Williams stated: "You are advised that the allegation is serious and that a potential outcome is disciplinary action up to and including dismissal."

Ms Williams said at a further meeting on April 24, 2015 Ms Rahiri stated she wished to resign.

Ms Rahiri said she considered Ms Williams was not interested in hearing her explanation and she had undermined her trust and confidence in the employment relationship.
The meeting ended with no formal resolution.

Ms Rahiri resigned on May 6, 2015 by letter complaining about Ms Williams treatment.
Ms Williams accepted the resignation but gave Ms Rahiri the chance to withdraw it.

The parties subsequently attended mediation, but this was not successful in resolving the problem, and on September 21 Ms Rahiri filed a statement of complaint with the authority.

Authority member Eleanor Robinson said she found the health board had not acted in the requisite good faith towards Ms Rahiri, and she was unjustifiably constructively dismissed.

Ms Robinson said she also accepted Ms Rahiri suffered "humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings" and severe financial difficulties throughout the period in question.