The Employment Relations Authority has found that a food safety manager at North Shore hospital, who was fired after unsafe work practices, was justifiably dismissed.
The employee had a high level of responsibility for the safety of food that was served to patients and was dismissed for short-comings in a number of related areas. An outbreak of Norovirus at the hospital in 2012 was never specifically linked to the employee, although it was determined likely to have originated in the hospital kitchen. Investigators considered the chicken and barley soup served at lunch to be the most likely culprit. Fifty-nine patients who ate the soup suffered from gastroenteritis. The Ministry of Primary Industries issued a formal warning relating to hand hygiene practices, training and food safety documentation as a result of the outbreak.
The Employment Relations Authority found that all necessary disciplinary processes had been followed by the employer. The process followed included an investigation meeting, a disciplinary investigation meeting and a letter setting out a summary of findings and outcome of the investigation. The employee was given the opportunity to transfer to a different role with a reduced salary and responsibility. She was also given the opportunity to respond to all concerns throughout the disciplinary process.