NZ nurse denied appeal after she was fired over Facebook memes

Dismissed nurse denied appeal with claims the posts to her 86 friends caused others to question whether they should be vaccinated against COVID-19.

NZ nurse denied appeal after she was fired over Facebook memes
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A former Wairarapa District Health Board nurse, dismissed for sharing anti-vaccine posts on Facebook, has had her appeal against last year’s Employment Court ruling rejected.

Amanda Turner, who worked as a palliative care nurse in the community since May 2015, was dismissed in April 2021 after an investigation found her social media activity violated both the DHB’s Code of Conduct and the Nursing Council of New Zealand’s Code of Conduct.

Turner initially lost her case with the Employment Relations Authority in 2022 and subsequently her challenge in the Employment Court. She then sought to appeal this decision but has now been denied by the Court of Appeal. The recent judgement stated that "leave to appeal should not be granted," potentially requiring Turner to pay $20,000 to Te Whatu Ora.

In the decision released this month, Justices Edwin Wylie and Mark Cooper stated:

"We do not consider there is a plausible argument that the Employment Court’s approach was wrong."

Turner had argued that her dismissal was discriminatory based on her political beliefs, but the Employment Court claimed otherwise.

"Turner’s employment was not terminated because of any political opinions, but because her posts were directly contrary to the position being taken by the DHB at the time."

Despite the posts not receiving widespread exposure on social media, the Court claimed the potential impact of Turner’s posts was significant, noting they could "undermine the trust and confidence of the public in the DHB."

It was claimed her Facebook activity, including statements such as "They say its [sic] safe Ha!" and remarks questioning the cost and voluntariness of the vaccine, had caused concern among colleagues and the public.

"The posts were not considered or balanced discussions but involved memes and strongly worded statements or allegations against individuals and groups," the judgement said.

Turner, who had 86 Facebook friends at the time of the posts, worked under a board-governed DHB, now rebranded as Te Whatu Ora.

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