A three-month stint of fast-paced repetitive copying, collating, hole-punching and binding of thousands of papers to compile training manuals for customers’ employees resulted in a chronic shoulder condition for the junior office worker tasked with the role.
In her injury compensation lawsuit, Michelle Taylor demanded her employer – earthmoving plant distributor Hastings Deering – hand over a copy of each item to demonstrate “the enormity of the tasks she performed” together with IT records, tax invoices, printer meter readings and training programs, to reconcile her allegations.
The Caterpillar re-seller did not contend the “by no means modest task” to be unreasonable in terms of cost or logistics.
Its refusal was premised on the “subjective opinion” – expressed in affidavits sworn by two employees and the company’s lawyer – that any additional documents would add nothing to what could be gleaned from the already disclosed weekly training room records.
Those records were said to “identify the number of trainees, the nature of the courses…. and the dates the services were provided”.
But if employees Ms Trott and Ms Dalton had presumably examined them to inform their opinions, “why can’t I,”
Taylor argued, “make (my) own judgment and not have to rely of the opinions expressed by others”?
That was exactly what the court decision should happen when Taylor referred her stonewalling employer to the District Court for admonition.
“It is all very well for the defendant to state that certain documents exist but do not assist the plaintiff,” ruled Judge Stuart Durward. “That may be its perception of what the plaintiff seeks to prove, but (she) should determine that herself”.
HD must now quickly deliver up a huge number of further documents.
Time will tell whether further documents prove to be the gems that Ms Taylor expects them to be.