Postie paid out over boss fall out

A postie punished for buying Rescue Remedy in work hours and wearing the wrong uniform will get a $4000 payout.

The Employment Relations Authority, in a decision released today, ordered New Zealand Post to compensate the postie as she was treated unfairly at work.

Lynda Hunt had been a postie for 35 years and was working in a Christchurch branch in a team led by Ms Dwyer.

The relationship between Hunt and Dwyer started deteriorating in September 2011 when Dwyer started talking to Hunt about her extensive overtime.

Dwyer thought Hunt's overtime was excessive, unjustified, and a result of wasting time.

To see where her time was going, Dwyer started looking at Hunt's daily activity records, which all posties recorded on dockets.

In meetings held between them about her time management, Dwyer criticised Hunt for talking too much and Hunt felt she was being excessively monitored and micromanaged.

She said this put her under pressure, and she felt stressed.

In other meetings, she was told she was undermining her boss and having a negative attitude.

She was then put on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) with a goal of minimising overtime levels.

In another incident in February 2012, Hunt was told not to wear items of the old NZ Post uniform.

Soon after the briefing, Hunt told Dwyer she had given her newly issued uniform to her colleague Darren several months ago because the zip on his had broken.

One day in late March, Hunt went to go on her round, but was stopped by Dwyer, who asked her to take off her old uniform.

Dwyer said she offered an alternative uniform to Hunt, but Hunt biked off without finishing the conversation.

Dwyer told her this could result in disciplinary action.

On April 5, Hunt had been given an oral warning for failing to meet performance expectations, and filling out her dockets correctly.

Hunt then wrote a letter to another team leader saying Dwyer was "obsessive to the point of following me at a distance to record if I talk to anyone in the bullring as I leave the building".

She also said Dwyer was getting other team leaders to tell her if she approached or was approached by anyone in the team, and "following me to the toilet if I take more than 2-3 minutes and haven't returned".

A human resources staff member, John Collings, was asked to investigate Hunt's allegations of bullying.

He found the claims of bullying were unsubstantiated, but recommended independent mediation between both parties.

On September 27, Hunt ran a personal errand before starting her round, by stopping off at the pharmacy to pick up some rescue remedy because she thought it would help the stress.

She recorded this as a personal errand on her docket, and it took 25 minutes.

Dwyer gave her a letter saying she was going to have to go to a misconduct meeting for unauthorised absence, and received a final written warning.

Hunt said this was unfair treatment, but Dwyer said after the February 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch, it was important to know where their staff were.

ERA member David Appleton said though the warnings, and the performance programmes were not an unjustified disadvantage to Hunt, the discipline about her uniform was.

Furthermore, Collings failed to investigate the difference in staff treatment.

NZ Post was ordered to pay $4000 for humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to the feelings of the employee.