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Three major discrimination facts: Why you're not allowed to reject job candidates on these grounds

by , 10 June 2015
It's a fact that the reasons that support our decisions may be fair only in our minds. What might look like an honest and fair choice during recruitment, could in fact be based on discrimination. And a rejected candidate is more than entitled to ask the authorities to protect his rights.

Today we'll discuss three major discrimination factors that many employers tend to overlook when they are recruiting.

Don't be one of them and don't discriminate!

Never discriminate a job candidate based on these three factors

1. Ethnic origin

You may not reject employees because they belong to the 'wrong' tribe, or the 'wrong' caste, or the 'wrong' clan, etc.

A contractor wins a tender to build a municipal facility. One of the requirements is that he recruits 50% of his labour force from the local community. The community leaders try convince the contractor not to hire anyone who belongs to tribes that aren't 'indigenous' to the area. Even though most of them have been living in the area for a long time.

It takes a lot of negotiation to convince them that it's unfair to discriminate against anyone because of their ethnic origin. The contractor has to explain he'd be going against the EEA if he does this.

2. Family responsibility

Many employers believe they are entitled to hire someone based on whether they have family responsibilities or not. By this, we mean an employee's responsibility towards a spouse, partner, dependent children or other immediate members of the family who need care and support.

However, you can't assume an applicant can't do a specific job because of his family responsibility!

For example, an employee who has small children may be just as capable of doing the job as a single, childless applicant.

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Remember: Both men and women have family responsibilities. Many people assume that family responsibility applies more to women, but this isn't always true. If an employee can't work night shifts because of family responsibilities, you must try make other arrangements for him (Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997).

If you can't change his working conditions, you can dismiss him for operational reasons. Just make sure you follow a fair process.

A lot of practices are inherently discriminatory. For example, setting important meetings after hours is unfair to those who have small children. Many companies say they do this because of their client's needs. But it's possible to accommodate employees by scheduling meetings during office hours.


Always inform employees if they need to travel, work overtime, night shifts, long hours, weekends, evenings, etc. before you hire them. Make sure he knows that doing these functions is an inherent requirement of the job.

3. Gender
No, you can't discriminate against anyone because of their gender. But since women fall into the designated persons definition, you can choose a female applicant over a male. Just make sure she's still suitably qualified.

There are some posts where gender is an inherent requirement. For example, let's look at an all female old-age home, where they may have strong traditional, moral or religious objections to having a male nurse tend to them. In the security industry, everyone has the right to only have people of the same gender search them.


If an applicant asks, you have to give them the reasons you aren't interviewing or appointing them. Always base your reasons on the person's ability to do the job. Not on gender, race, religion etc.

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