A trucking company has been ordered to pay a former employee $38,000 in lost wages and $25,000 compensation for hurt and humiliation after a successful personal grievance claim for constructive dismissal.

The employer’s actions were so bad that the hurt and humiliation award was much higher than normal to reflect the numerous failings.

The employer:

  1. Warned the employee for damaging a vehicle when she was not present during the incident and not responsible for the damage;
  2. Threatened disciplinary action against her when she raised complaints of sexual harassment;
  3. Unilaterally altered her terms of employment;
  4. Sexually harassed the employee;
  5. Discriminated against her based on her gender;
  6. Failed to address her complaints of harassment; and
  7. Failed to assist her to obtain medical help after an injury.

These failings meant that the employer acted so badly towards her that she had no choice but to resign, and was therefore constructively dismissed.

The really unusual and reprehensible features here were the refusal to allow access to first aid, refusal to allow an ambulance to be called, and refusal to assist with transportation to hospital.  The employee was eventually transported by a family member and admitted to hospital for several days.  It is hard to imagine a more callous approach by an employer in New Zealand.