False accusations of racism in the workplace and how to deal with it.

Racism in the workplace has been a big issue in the labour force for some time. Although many employers see this as an extremely serious offence which is nearly always investigated and handled as soon as it is reported, there seems to be a lack in the understanding regarding false accusations and claims of racism and how these claims should be handled.

When looking at recent case law relating to racism and false claims of racism the Labour Appeal Court (LAC) warned that it would not tolerate any form of racism. In the case of City of Cape Town v Freddie & Others (2016) 37 ILJ 1364 (LAC), the

employee stated that his manager was “worse than Verwoerd” after the manager instructed the employee to seek assistance from a fellow employee with regards to compiling and finalising a proper report. The LAC found that the employee had made racist comments without justification or justifiable cause as there was no evidence to substantiate his claims and upheld the sanction of dismissal.

In other cases such as, SACWU & another v NCP Chlorchem (Pty) Ltd & others (2007) 28 ILJ 1308 (LC) falsely accusing a superior of being racist has been held to be just as deplorable as racism and justified dismissal of an employee.In the case of Crown Chickens (Pty) Ltd t/a Rocklands Poultries (2002) 23 ILJ 863 (LAC),the Labour Court indicated that there is a zero tolerance approach to any comments or conduct that might have racist connotations, and acting in contravention of this justifies dismissal.

As we can see the labour courts have made it very clear that not only employees that are found to be racist can be prosecuted but also employees making false claims or accusations of racism. However employers should still follow the correct disciplinary procedure and have a thorough investigation of the situation before dismissing employees for such misconduct.

Thus in order for employers to eliminate all forms of racism in the workplace, proper policies should be in place not only to identify and eliminate racism, but policies to identify and eliminate false claims of racism as well. Need assistance with your policies when it comes to racism? Feel free to contact us on 0861 737 239.