ANTIDEPRESSANT: Scientist Becomes Oblivious to Work Policy, Fired: New Zealand

Paragraph fourteen reads:  “Earlier, therapist Dr Rui
Mendel spoke of how Dr Salinger had s
uffered from
depression in the early part of the decade but had it under control after
taking medication.”

Climate scientist oblivious to media policy before sacking

7:43PM Monday Oct 19, 2009

Sacked climate scientist Jim Salinger. Photo / NZPA

Sacked climate scientist Jim Salinger said he’d never seen his employer’s
policy on media statements until disciplinary action was started against

Dr Salinger is seeking compensation through the Employment Relations
Authority (ERA) after claiming he was unjustifiably dismissed by his former
employer, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research

He was dismissed for allegedly ignoring a Niwa policy against
speaking publicly without prior approval.

Dr Salinger accepted when
giving evidence to ERA member Leon Robinson that his letter of dismissal
indicated that “repeated instances of unauthorised contact with the media” was
his reason for dismissal.

But he said when referred to the company’s
policies on media comment that he had not seen the document prior to early this

“The first I saw of this document was during the disciplinary
process in March this year,” Dr Salinger said.

He said the document was
directed at regional managers and had not been handed to him, though he knew
there was a media discussion policy.

Dr Salinger said he did not raise
the fact he hadn’t seen the document during the disciplinary process as it was
the first time he’d been in such a situation and he was feeling under

He told Mr Robinson he was aware there were media

He said he had been making comments to media for 20 years and
was unhappy at being “reined in” when other Niwa scientists with similar
experience to him did not appear to have to seek approval from senior staff when
speaking to media.

Dr Salinger said he was also unhappy at the change to

an open plan office a few years ago, and that there were directions from
management not to put up any maps or pictures around his new work

Earlier, therapist Dr Rui Mendel spoke of how Dr Salinger had
suffered from depression in the early part of the decade but had it under
control after taking medication.

Dr Mendel said he thought Dr Salinger
was the victim of bullying by Niwa management, particularly over the new media
policy and the open space office.

He agreed with Niwa’s lawyer Peter
Churchman that Niwa had the right to set media policies, but he thought changes
in enforcement which impacted on Dr Salinger were not handled well.

Mendel also said Dr Salinger was speaking in a personal capacity only when he
once contacted TVNZ weatherman Jim Hickey about heavy rain on the West

Niwa said the river had not passed the level where it was
officially in flood, and Dr Salinger did not have the authority to call Mr
Hickey on Niwa’s behalf.

“Dr Salinger spoke at a personal level, he
wasn’t working at that stage,” Dr Mendel said.

“He spoke to someone who
is a friend.”

Asked by Mr Churchman if he was aware Mr Hickey told
viewers he had been told of flooding on the West Coast “by Jim Salinger of
Niwa”, Dr Mendel said it was Mr Hickey that made the link and not Dr

Dr Salinger is not seeking his job back but does want
compensation for lost income up to 2012, along with $104,000 lost superannuation
money and $50,000 in compensation for humiliation and loss of

The hearing is expected to take a week.