The former Queenstown female truck driver awarded more than
$63,000 for being sexually harassed, discriminated against
because of her gender and unjustifiably dismissed from her
job suspects she miscarried as a result of being told to
''manhandle'' an 800kg load at work.
The Employment Relations Authority ordered that Rachael Lee
Harrington receive $38,243 as recompense for wages lost as a
result of the dismissal and $25,000 as compensation for
humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings from her
former employer, Cromwell-based Thunderbird One Ltd.
Ms Harrington was ''severely bleeding and miscarrying after
lifting all the heavy pallets, so it was really super
traumatic for her,'' counsel Angeline Boniface, of
Christchurch, told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.
''The worst thing about this entire situation is that here
she is bleeding profusely, her father asked for an ambulance
to come on site and Mr [Justin] Marshall said, 'If you get an
ambulance, you'll be up for disciplinary action,'' Mrs
''Meanwhile she's bleeding, she wants to get into the
building and other staff members have locked her out and
laughing at her. This is awful, just shocking.''
The determination of Ms Harrington's claim to the authority
in Christchurch, dated April 24, said the key incident
occurred early on December 17, 2008.
Ms Harrington started suffering further pain, which she
attributed to injuries suffered when trying to move the load
on December 15.
The pain increased and was accompanied by visible signs of
incapacity and distress. She said although she thought it
appropriate to seek medical assistance, she initially chose
not to as she felt obligated to continue working.
''By the time she reached the Cromwell depot her pain was
acute,'' the determination said.
''She sought assistance from her manager and this led to
derision and laughter from other employees.
''She claims some went so far as to block her access to first
aid and she was then refused help in obtaining medical
''Ms Harrington says that went so far as to include Mr
Marshall advising she would not be permitted to call an
ambulance and to do so would result in disciplinary action.
''Ms Harrington got her father to take her to a doctor, who
advised she should urgently seek hospital assistance in
Queenstown. Ms Harrington says she advised Mr Marshall of
that and asked the company assist with transport.
''Ms Harrington claims Mr Marshall refused and suggested she
seek assistance from a competing firm, approximately a
kilometre down the road.
''Ultimately, Ms Harrington's father took her to hospital,
where she remained for a couple of days.''
The final straw which caused her to resign came on December
29 when Ms Harrington returned to work and assisted a
colleague, on the instruction of the Cromwell branch manager.
Another employee intervened and criticised her for doing so
before approaching the manager and attempting to have the
instruction altered, the determination said.
Ms Harrington said she asked her colleague to desist and he
responded with an ''inappropriate and hurtful comment'' about
her recent ''illness''.
''We're pleased with the outcome. It has been a long battle,
nearly four years,'' Mrs Boniface said.
''For her, it's not been about the money. For her, it's been
about trying to send a message to employers in male dominated
fields that this behaviour is unacceptable.
''She wants to prevent this type of thing happening in the
future to other women.''
• Justin Marshall, managing director of Thunderbird One Ltd
and Picture Vehicles Ltd, is not the former All Black and
broadcaster Justin Marshall.