A former Whangarei Department of Corrections worker awarded $7000 after she complained of sexual harassment - including an allegation of a co-worker crawling under her desk - has appealed the Employment Relations Authority's decision.

The woman took Corrections to the ERA, claiming unjustified disadvantage after she said she'd endured an unsafe workplace and claiming she was then unjustifiably dismissed.

The authority heard that, in March 2010, she complained an employee made several advances towards her. She said the man crawled under her desk and touched her, including on the buttocks and the inside of her thigh.

The woman, who worked as a Whangarei senior community work supervisor overseeing offenders, also claimed that starting from August 2009, her then-managers mishandled her mental health issues, which affected her work performance.


In May 2011 she walked out on her job, claiming her resignation was engineered by the department.

In a decision released last week, the ERA partly upheld her claims, first lodged in July 2012.

Authority member Eleanor Robinson found the woman was disadvantaged in her workplace because Corrections did not provide her with a safe workplace while it investigated complaints.

Ms Robinson said despite the woman's several documented complaints, management did not take practicable steps to stop the harassment after the first reported act. Corrections' mishandling of her complaints caused her distress, suffering and anxiety, the authority found. The department was ordered to pay her $7000.

But the woman said she is not happy with the decision and will take an appeal to the Employment Court.