A former Castlecliff Health employee has been awarded more than $40,000 after it was ruled she was unjustifiably dismissed from her position.
The Employment Relations Authority has ruled the company must pay Christine Clements $12,636 in lost wages and holiday pay and compensation of $30,000.
Clements, who had 14 years' experience in the industry, was employed by Castlecliff Health as its practice manager from April, 2017 until her dismissal in April last year.
When she started the role, it was intended the clinic would move to a new premises in September 2017, however that was delayed until February 2018.
Two of the three company directors, Dr Praveen Thadigiri and Jane Dutton, called an urgent meeting on March 21, 2018 which all staff were required to attend.
The clinic's financial situation was the focus of the meeting with increasing patient debt levels and a need to address them highlighted by Thadigiri.
Staff were told to encourage patients without a regular payment schedule to pay on the day of their consultation before being seen or if the patients' outstanding balance was more than $65.
Staff were told ordering of non-clinical items were to be sent to Dutton.
Four weeks later, on April 16, Clements became aware of directors' concerns about her performance, which were noted in an email from Thadigiri to directors, Clements and the nurse practitioner.
One week after that email, Clements received a letter of dismissal, without notice, by courier when she was on her day off.
Some of the reasons for dismissal raised by Thadigiri in the letter included unauthorised use of time in lieu, failure to properly manage IT systems, poor financial management and incompatibility with other staff members.
The letter made it clear there would be no investigation into the decision to dismiss Clements and she was cautioned to not enter the clinic or communicate with any Castlecliff Health staff.
The ERA report states Clements, who was 68 at the time, went into a state of shock when reading the letter as there was no foresight she was being considered for dismissal and that she felt like a criminal not being able to communicate with former workmates.
In her claim, Clements highlighted conditions of her employment were unjustly affected in instances where she wasn't involved in recruitment of new staff, excluded from management meetings and wasn't involved in decision making which were all duties included in her job description.
Employment Relations Authority member Vicki Campbell said there was "no hesitation" in finding Clements dismissal was unjustified.
Her report shows there was no opportunity for Clements to respond to the claims of her dismissal which meant Castlecliff Health was unable to consider any explanations.
Clements sought $50,000 compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to feelings, however Campbell found $30,000 compensation was appropriate.
Castlecliff Health sought a reduction in remedies on the basis that Clements actions contributed to the dismissal by putting patients at risk by failing to properly enrol them, putting staff at risk by failing to remove a dangerous patient, misuse of the time in lieu policy and causing financial losses which were on-going.
Campbell declined to reduce the award stating the situation that gave rise to personal grievances was Castlecliff Health's failure to address its concerns with Clements prior to making its decisions.
The ERA recommended Castlecliff Health develop and implements comprehensive policies around employee performance and conduct and undertake a full investigation of any future issues before providing findings to the employee in question.
It's also recommended Castlecliff Health's working directors and managers consider appropriate training in effective performance management and misconduct procedures.