A nurse who verbally abused patients, fell asleep on the job and spent hours surfing the web has won $2,500 compensation after being wrongly dismissed.

Judith Lee was fired from her job at the Auckland District Health Board in July after repeated disciplinary breaches, including telling "terrified" dialysis patients at Auckland City Hospital to "steri strip yourself".

Lee, a 15-year veteran, claimed she had suffered discrimination by her manager and her dismissal had not been handled correctly.

The Employment Relations Authority found in her favour, awarding her the four-figure payout, but said she should not be allowed to have her job back because of her incompetence.


Lee's behaviour first attracted patient complaints in 2009.

In May 2010 she received a written warning for sleeping at work, high "non-work internet usage" and not following procedure for sterilising.

The next year, she received a final warning for sleeping at work.

Between December 2012 and February this year, patients and staff complained to Lee's manager about her punctuality, inappropriate behaviour towards and in front of patients, and failure to follow correct procedures and disregard for sterility. "These included failing to correctly disconnect dialysis tubing resulting in blood on the floor and Ms Lee's shoes," said authority member Tania Tetitaha.

But Tetitaha found inquiries into the complaints were inadequate, and the process followed was unfair and didn't follow ADHB's policy.

However, Lee had admitted inappropriate behaviour towards patients and reinstating her job was not appropriate.