Nurse wins 'test case'

AN IPSWICH nurse has argued she should be awarded legal costs because her successful discrimination complaint against Queensland Health was "a test case".

Rebecca Louise Chivers, who suffered from an acquired brain injury which prevented her from working nightshifts, argued there was "significant public interest" in questioning the requirements imposed on her as a graduate nurse "given the size of Queensland Health as an employer and the importance of its services to the Queensland public".

Ms Chivers was awarded $20,700 compensation after the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal found she was not accorded "equality of opportunity as a person with impairment" despite policies and legislative protections in place.

Senior member Claire Endicott, in the judgment handed down earlier this year, found Ms Chivers was forced to "meet one-size-fits-all requirements".

But, in a costs assessment published this month, Ms Endicott said she disagreed it was a test case and believed limited QCAT provisions to award costs did not fit this case.

Ms Endicott said many of Queensland Health's submissions, arguing the case involved "self-created complexity" from Ms Chivers' legal team, were "convincing".

"Many of the witness statements presented in the case by both parties contained repetitious evidence and, ultimately, were not of particular assistance to the resolution of the issues in the case," she said.

"I am not satisfied in this case that complexity of law or fact is a factor to compel me to award costs to Ms Chivers in the interests of justice."

In the original judgment, Ms Endicott said Ms Chivers had approached her superiors after she experienced severe headaches, nausea and vomiting each time she tried to work nightshift, which she did not experience during other shifts.

"The finding that Queensland Health discriminated against Ms Chivers in the area of work is based on the facts of this case and arises out of the less favourable treatment she received because of her impairment," she said.

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