We all know South Africa is a hotbed of vibrant culture and diversity. However, these qualities can often be overshadowed by the experiences that some individuals feel in their work environment.
Whether it’s discrimination due to gender, race, or sexual orientation- no one should ever face prejudice at work…and yet it still happens far too frequently.
To help tackle this issue, businesses around the country recognize the need for anti-discrimination and harassment policies to ensure people from all backgrounds can come together in an inclusive workplace where everyone feels safe and respected.
What Is Unfair Discrimination?
The South African Constitution guarantees that all persons are protected from discrimination and bias in the workplace.
Article 09 ensures that any factors such as race, gender, marital status, pregnancy, ethnic or social origin, sexual orientation, color, age, religion, disability, conscience, and belief cannot be used to influence an individual’s work-life unjustly.
Additionally – through the Employment Equity Act – family responsibilities and HIV status are within the umbrella of protection against prejudice, thus enabling everyone to advance in their career free from incapacitating barriers.
In short, workplace equality is essential for South African citizens and entrenched within the law.
Is There Fair Discrimination?
Everyone deserves to be treated fairly, but the law acknowledges that discrimination can be necessary in certain situations. Under affirmative action, employers must take proactive steps to provide work opportunities for members of a historically underrepresented group.
Additionally, some jobs may require a person to possess particular skills or abilities – in this situation, discrimination based on the “inherent requirement” of the job is permissible. Furthermore, some laws require employers to discriminate judging by people’s ages or medical conditions.
Finally, discriminating based on productivity is acceptable as long as employees know what is expected and their performance is judged accordingly. All these forms of discrimination are justified in the eyes of the law and provide equality and fairness in different situations.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Discriminated Against?
For those who feel they have been victims of unfair discrimination, it’s a relief to know there is recourse.
Your first step would be to file a grievance with your employer.
If the issue isn’t able to be resolved within the workplace, you can refer it to the CCMA within six months of when it happened, and if the CCMA can’t find a way forward through conciliation, then the matter can proceed either via arbitration (with both parties on board) or straight to the Labour Court for adjudication.
Whichever route you take, everyone needs to understand there are options available for those facing off against potential discrimination scenarios.
In conclusion, it is vital for companies operating in South Africa to ensure they have robust anti-discriminatory and harassment policies in place. Not only do these policies help protect the rights of employees, but they also work towards creating a healthy working environment and culture.
They allow employers and employees to resolve potentially explosive situations without resorting to court processes. Companies not complying with anti-discrimination or harassment laws and regulations may face serious civil or criminal penalties.
As such, comprehensive anti-harassment and discrimination policies must be introduced at the workplace to avoid potentially costly legal proceedings which could harm their reputation.
Having these policies in place helps to cultivate trust between employees and employers alike. It also serves as a reminder that mutual respect is essential for any successful business relationship. For more information regarding global compliance, visit Global People Strategist.