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How to dismiss employees you can't identify

by , 17 May 2016
You believe that a particular group of employees are up to no good in your workplace. But there's just one problem: You don't know exactly who the culprits are out of that entire group! In other words, you can't identify the perpetrators, and so you can't prove who's guilty of the misconduct.
This may seem like a dead end at first glance, but you'll be surprised to know that that's not necessarily the case.
Keep reading to find out what you can do, should you find yourself in a situation like this...


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How to dismiss employees you can't identify...

TIP: Use the help of other employees to identify the perpetrators

The most obvious tactic would be to seek the help of your employees in identifying the offenders in your workplace.

But this tactic has its own dead end, namely that the employees may not help you at all. This could be for reasons of worker's solidarity to a simple fear of punishment, should they disclose any knowledge of misconduct in your workplace.
In dealing with this issue, I can refer your attention to the case of Chauke & Others v Lee Service Centre CC t/a Leeson Motors (1998) 19 ILJ 1441 (LAC). In this case, the employees didn't help an employer identify the perpetrators, after which the Court decided that the entire group's dismissal was justified because of them not helping the employer.

They introduced the term 'derivative misconduct' to deal with employees who don't help you identify the culprits.

Your employees have an obligation to assist you in identifying anyone who is guilty of misconduct in the workplace. And if they don't do this, they breach the trust in the relationship between your employee and you.

So if you have sufficient evidence to suggest an entire group is guilty, and no one in the group is willing to help you identify the real culprits, then all of their dismissals can be justified as it therefore implies that they were all either directly involved in the misconduct, or associated with it in some way or another.

NOTE: But always remember that in any situation like this, it's highly advised to get guidance of a legal expert.
*To learn more, page over to Chapter C 14: Case law: Can you Fire a Group of Employees for Misconduct, in your Labour Law for Managers handbook, or click here to order your copy today. 

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