A former health worker who won an employment case against Waikato District Health Board for unjustified dismissal has finally received an apology from her former employer.
Kathleen Archibald won $20,000 compensation, a severance payout, and legal costs after the DHB lost an appeal on the case in October.
The case was approved for appeal by the former chief executive Dr Nigel Murray – who quit in October amid an expenses scandal.
Archibald initially won an Employment Relations Authority case against the DHB earlier this year for the unjustified dismissal and the DHB was ordered to pay her $10,000 and redundancy.
Archibald was 67 and worked as a health promoter for two decades at Waikato DHB when she was told in March last year she would have to travel from Thames to Hamilton every day for six months under a restructure.
Archibald had undergone a kidney transplant and was required to take particular care of her health.
She said the 200km return trip or almost three-hour daily commute, filled her with dread and would “destroy” her.
The PSA union argued the travel was a substantial change from her normal duties and that she was entitled to a redundancy as a result. The ERA agreed.
But Waikato DHB pursued an appeal despite a judge warning several months before that its case was weak and if it lost the DHB would have to pay Archibald’s costs.
The judgment in the Employment Court on October 31 also ruled in Archibald’s favour, upgrading the compensation to $20,000.
Archibald said the letter of apology she has received over the issue was a relief.
“It actually is a very sincere, compassionate apology. So for me that’s come a long way in the healing process.”
Archibald said the payout, including one year’s salary, was important and would make a difference to her life but it did not heal the emotional wounds.
“Whereas a personal apology like this goes a long way. It maybe is an indication of a change in culture and that people might be treated differently in the future.
“There was a huge lack of compassion in how I was personally treated but this apology for me indicates that there is some cultural change.”
She applauded the PSA for taking on her case and planned with friends and former colleagues to plant a Kauri tree tomorrow to mark the turning point.