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Should you dismiss an employee who's guilty of racism?

by , 05 November 2013
Let's say an incident of racism happened in your workplace. And you've conducted an investigation, held a hearing and found your employee guilty of racism. The big question now is: Can you dismiss an employee who is guilty of racism? Read on to find out what labour law says about this...

Incidents of racism keep creeping up.

The latest incident has prompted North West Premier Thandi Modise to call for schools to act against racism.

In a statement, Modise said, 'incidents of racism such as the one reported [at Potchefstroom Gimnasium] undermine efforts of nation building and social cohesion that seeks to unite all communities across racial, ethnic and gender lines.'

According to News24, the premier was responding to a report in The Star about two brothers, who reportedly suffered constant harassment and racial slurs from fellow pupils at the Potchefstroom Gimnasium boarding school.

The twins, Kago and Kagiso Mangope, and were the only blacks in the school's Grade 8 hostel. Their brother Lebo told the newspaper they were constantly called 'kaffir' and that two previous incidents had resulted in Kago quitting the rugby team.

A disciplinary hearing had been scheduled.

If the culprit is found guilty of racism, the school will have to decide whether or not to expel these pupils.

The reality is that you could be faced with a similar situation in the workplace.

Here's what the law says about dismissing an employee who is guilty of racism

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, when you assess how serious the use of unacceptable language and other forms of racism is, you must always consider the circumstances of the incident.

The Loose Leaf Service adds where the incident is serious enough, an isolated incident of verbal abuse may in itself merit dismissal, especially if it's accompanied by malice, where there's no justification and where the culprit showed no remorse.

Here's an example of how the courts have dealt with an employee guilty of racism:

In Lebowa Platinum Mines vs. Hill, the dismissal of an employee for calling another employee a 'bobbejaan' was justified because the Court said the term had a racist connotation.

Racism has no place in the workplace. And now that you know whether or not you can dismiss an employee who is guilty of racism, use these ways to manage incidents of racism in the workplace.

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