The Employment Relations Authority has upheld a personal grievance claim for unjustified dismissal after a trainee cut her finger at work, requiring stiches and a splint. Instead of arranging medical attention at the time, her work mentor told her to simply put a plaster on the wound.

The trainee left work to have her wound attended to at a medical centre, which also gave her a medical certificate excusing her from work until her finger had healed.

Not only did her employer disregard the medical certificate, they gave her a warning for leaving work. The employer also said that the injury occurred because the trainee was not using the appropriate equipment and was not complying with proper procedures.

However, the trainee was, as stated, a trainee, and as such was following the protocol that she had been taught by her mentor. Despite being issued with a medical certificate, the trainee was still made to work before the wound had healed.

In addition to this, the trainee had raised concerns about treatment from her mentor, but those concerns were dismissed by her employer. The concerns involved her mentor’s inadequate training, that he would request the trainee to purchase cigarettes and food for him, and showed up at her house one night intoxicated. When the trainee raised these concerns, she was told to “grow a backbone.”

The trainee resigned, believing she was discriminated against on the grounds of age, sexual orientation and family status, and was incorrectly paid.

The ERA found in her favour, stating: "I consider that the failure to address genuine concerns about workplace safety, both psychological and physical, incorrect pay, and discrimination in the workplace, means that cumulatively these actions of [the employer] caused [the employee’s] resignation."

The employer was ordered to pay the trainee over $25,000 for loss of wages, wage arrears, and compensation for loss of dignity, injury to feelings and humiliation due to the constructive dismissal when they ignored her injury and medical certificate.