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Recent Employment Relations Authority determination on how employers navigate workplace bullying complaints

By Kathryn McKinney - 31 Oct 2023

Mr Green raised bullying complaints about a fellow employee (A), which KiwiRail advised would be investigated. Mr Green was initially invited to attend a meeting with A at which he said he felt uncomfortable and pressured into shaking hands with A.

Mr Green pursued his complaints formally after that meeting and argued that KiwiRail failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into his complaints. Following the investigation, KiwiRail attempted to arrange a further facilitated meeting, which never took place.

KiwiRail argued that a restorative rather than a punitive approach was justifiably taken, including seeking a facilitated meeting, and that this was consistent with its good faith obligations.

The Authority held:

  • Mr Green was entitled to have his complaint investigated fully.
  • That the investigation had not been fully conducted, and not all the relevant information had been provided to Mr Green as part of that investigation.
  • Mr Green was disadvantaged by KiwiRail not taking appropriate steps to investigate his safety concerns relating to bullying in the workplace, not following its policies and procedures and failing to comply with both the contractual and statutory duties of good faith.

The Authority held KiwiRail's actions were procedurally unjustified, and that "whilst a facilitated meeting of the type proposed by KiwiRail may be an appropriate step, such an approach appears inherently problematic where complaints of bullying are unresolved. This is not least because the full scope and substance of the issues cannot properly be understood until they have been investigated."

Mr Green was awarded $13,500 in compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.


Kathryn McKinney

Saleha Hamid-Drew


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