Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Mgolozeli v. Gauteng Department of Finance Labour Court of South Africa (Arbeidshof van Suid Afrika) (2014)


Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The applicant, a male, applied for a senior managerial position previously occupied by a woman. After undergoing a psychometric assessment, he was recommended for appointment. The recommendation was turned down “due to the gender imbalance at SMS level”. The applicant claimed that he had been unfairly discriminated against on the basis of his sex because the target, set by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, did not comply with the provisions of the Employment Equity Act (EEA), 55 of 1998. The respondent contended that, although it had not adopted an equity plan, it had set itself a target of 50% females in senior management positions. The Court noted that when the second respondent took the decision not to appoint the applicant, there was great confusion regarding the actual gender balance at the senior management level. However, the Court was prepared to accept that, at the time, females filled only 29% senior management posts. The EEA requires that equity plans must provide objectives for each year, their duration, and procedures for evaluating their implementation. The Court noted that, in SA Police Service v Solidarity obo Barnard (Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union as amicus curiae [2014] 11 BLLR 1025 (CC)), the Constitutional Court had confirmed that competent courts must ensure that validly adopted equity plans are applied lawfully. Apart from the fact that the respondent had no plan, it had no mechanism to track the levels of gender representation. The second respondent had applied the target without considering the panel’s reasons for its recommendation. Affirmative action had been applied ad hoc, in a haphazard, arbitrary, and random manner. The responsible official had applied a quota system and raised an absolute barrier, both of which were impermissible. The affirmative action measure applied by the respondents conflicted with both the Constitution and the EEA. Accordingly, the measure had unfairly discriminated against the applicant. The respondents were directed to appoint the applicant to the post concerned and pay him compensation equal to the difference between the salary he had earned and the salary he should have earned, with retrospective effect.

Die applikant, 'n man, het aansoek gedoen vir 'n senior bestuurs-posisie wat voorheen deur 'n vrou beset was. Nadat hy 'n psigometriese assessering ondergaan het, is hy vir aanstelling aanbeveel. Die aanbeveling is afgekeur "as gevolg van die geslagswanbalans op SMS-vlak". Die applikant het daarop aanspraak gemaak dat hy op grond van sy geslag onregverdig gediskrimineer is omdat die teiken, wat deur die Gautengse Provinsiale Wetgewer gestel is, nie voldoen het aan die bepalings van die Wet op Gelyke Indiensneming (EEA), 55 van 1998 nie. Die respondent het beweer dat, hoewel dit nie 'n ekwiteitsplan aangeneem het nie, het dit 'n teiken van 50% vroue in senior bestuursposte gestel. Die Hof het opgemerk dat toe die tweede respondent die besluit geneem het om nie die applikant aan te stel nie, was daar groot verwarring oor die werklike geslagsbalans op die Senior bestuursvlak. Die hof was egter bereid om te aanvaar dat vrouens slegs 29% senior bestuursposte gevul het. Die EEA vereis dat ekwiteitsplanne doelwitte moet gee vir elke jaar, hulle duur en prosedures om die implementering daarvan te evalueer. Die Hof het opgemerk dat, in SA Polisiediens v Solidariteit nms Barnard (Polisie en Gevangenisse Burgerregte-Unie as amucus curiae [2014] 11 BLLR 1025 (CC)), het die Konstitusionele Hof bevestig dat bevoegde howe moet verseker dat aanvaarde ekwiteitsplanne wettig toegepas is. Afgesien van die feit dat die respondent geen plan gehad het nie, het dit geen meganisme gehad om die vlakke van geslagsverteenwoordiging op te spoor nie. Die tweede respondent het die teiken toegepas sonder om die paneel se redes vir die aanbeveling te oorweeg. Regstellende aksie is in 'n lukrake, arbitrêre, en willekeurige wyse toegepas. Die verantwoordelike amptenaar het 'n kwota-stelsel toegepas en 'n absolute versperring geopper wat albei ontoelaatbaar was. Die regstellende aksie maatreël wat deur die respondente toegepas is bots met beide die Grondwet en die EEA. Gevolglik het die maatreël teen die aansoeker onregverdig gediskrimineer. Die respondente is gerig om die aansoeker aan die betrokke pos toe te stel en vergoeding gelyk te skenk aan die verskil tussen die salaris wat hy verdien het en die salaris wat hy moes verdien het, met 'n terugwerkende effek.



Ekhamanzi Springs Ltd. v. Mnomiya Labor Appeal Court of South Africa (Arbeidsappèlhof van Suid Afrika) (2014)


Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The respondent was employed by the appellant to bottle Aquelle spring water. The appellant’s plant was located on property belonging to a religious mission, and to gain access to the workplace, the appellant’s employees had to cross the mission’s property. The mission’s security guards were instructed to bar entry to any persons who did not comply with its code of conduct; one provision, for example, prohibited “amorous relationships between any two persons outside of marriage”. The respondent and a colleague were denied access because they became pregnant outside of marriage. Consequently, the respondent and her colleague were not able to access the workplace, as they were refused access to the mission’s property. They were subsequently fired. The court ruled that the dismissal of the respondent employee was automatically unfair because she had been dismissed for her pregnancy. The court noted that all persons have a constitutional right to equality. Discriminatory dismissals, such as this one, are accordingly automatically unfair and higher compensation is allowed in such cases. Employers are obliged to avoid discriminating against employees directly or indirectly ̶ protection against being discriminated against on the ground of pregnancy is not a preserve of married women. An agreement that denies pregnant employees access to the workplace is accordingly prima facie unenforceable unless it can be justified on grounds consistent with constitutional norms. The mission’s code of conduct interfered with the employment relationship between the appellant and its employees and created a situation in which breaches could lead to dismissal. Such provisions blurred the line between the appellant’s terms and conditions of employment and the mission’s code. That the employee was not a party to the mission’s code proved decisive. As lessee, the appellant had legal remedies to compel the mission to allow full use and enjoyment of the leased property. The appellant’s faint plea of operational necessity could not serve as a defense because it had failed to exercise its rights as lessee to protect its pregnant employees. The employee had tendered her services, and the appellant’s refusal to accept the tender constituted a breach of contract. The court further held that the appellant’s acquiescence in the mission’s discriminatory practice of barring unwed pregnant women from the leased premises violated the appellant’s constitutional duty to treat its employees fairly and was a breach of its common law duty to accept the employees into service. The court, therefore, confirmed that the employee had been dismissed and that her dismissal was automatically unfair. The court also confirmed the remedy of 12 months’ compensation.

Die respondent is in die diens van die appêlant om Aquelle water te bottel. Die appêlant se aanleg was op eiendom wat aan 'n godsdienstige sending behoort, en om toegang tot die werksplek te verkry, moes die appêlant se werknemers die sending se eiendom oorsteek. Die sending se sekuriteitswagte is opdrag gegee om toegang te verbied aan enige persone wat nie aan hul gedragskode voldoen het nie; een bepaling, byvoorbeeld, het "verliefde verhoudings tussen enige twee persone buite die huwelik" verbied. Die respondent en 'n kollega is toegang geweier omdat hulle buite die huwelik swanger geraak het. Gevolglik was die respondent en haar kollega nie in staat om toegang tot die werksplek te verkry nie. Aangesien hulle toegang tot die missie se eiendom geweier is is hulle is daarna afgedank. Die hof het beslis dat die ontslag van die respondent werknemer outomaties onregverdig was omdat sy vir haar swangerskap ontslaan is. Die hof het kennis geneem dat alle persone 'n grondwetlike reg tot gelykheid het. Diskriminerende afdankings, soos hierdie een, is dienooreenkomstig outomaties onregverdig en hoër vergoeding word toegelaat in sulke gevalle. Werkgewers is verplig om te verhoed dat daar diskriminasie is teen werknemers, direk of indirek - beskerming teen diskriminasie op die grond van swangerskap is nie 'n bewaar van getroude vrouens nie. 'n ooreenkoms wat verwagtende werknemers se toegang tot die werksplek ontken is gevolglik prima facie-onafdwingbaar tensy dit geregverdig kan word op grond wat met grondwetlike norme bestaanbaar is. Die sending se gedragskode het met die werksverhouding tussen die appêlant en sy werknemers ingemeng en 'n situasie geskep waarin oortredings tot ontslag kan lei. Sodanige bepalings vervaag die lyn tussen die appêlant se bepalings en voorwaardes van indiensneming en die sending se kode. Dat die werknemer nie 'n party tot die sending se kode was nie, was beslissend. As huurder het die appêlant regsmiddels gehad om die sending te dwing om volle gebruik en genot van die gehuurde eiendom toe te laat. Die appêlant se dowwe pleidooi van operasionele noodsaaklikheid kon nie dien as 'n verdediging nie omdat dit versuim het om sy regte as huurder om sy swanger werknemers te beskerm uit te oefen. Die werknemer het haar dienste aangebied, en die appêlant se weiering om die aanbod te aanvaar het 'n skending van die kontrak saamgestel. Die hof het verder bevind dat die appêlant se vrywaring in die diskriminerende praktyk van die missie om ongewenste swanger vroue van die gehuurde perseel te belet. Die appellant se grondwetlike plig om sy werknemers billik te behandel is geskend en dat dit ‘n oortreding van sy gemeenregtelike plig was om die werknemers in diens te neem. Die hof het dus bevestig dat die werknemer ontslaan is en dat haar ontslag outomaties onregverdig was. Die hof het ook die regsmiddel van 12 maande se vergoeding bevestig.



South African Police Service v. Barnard Constitutional Court of South Africa (Konstitutionele Hof van Suid Afrika) (2014)


Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The South African Police Service (“SAPS”) had adopted the Employment Equity Plan (“EEP”), which sets numerical goals to produce gender and racial diversity. The appellant, Ms. Barnard, applied twice for a position in the National Evaluation Service of the SAPS in 2005. Despite being shortlisted, interviewed, and recommended as the best-suited candidate, she did not get the position on either occasion. This case concerns her second attempt, where the National Commissioner did not appoint Ms. Barnard on the grounds that it would not enhance racial representation at that salary level and that it was not necessary to fill the vacancy immediately because the post was not critical. While the Labor Court found that SAPS had unfairly discriminated against the appellant, the Labor Appeal Court found in favor of SAPS. On further appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeal (“SCA”) reversed the Labor Appeal Court’s decision and held that Ms. Barnard had been the victim of unfair discrimination on the basis of race, in violation of Section 9(3) of the Constitution and Section 6(1) of the Employment Equity Act (the Act). The Constitutional Court granted SAPS leave to appeal and unanimously reversed the SCA’s ruling in favor of Ms. Barnard. As the Court noted, the SCA found that SAPS had failed to rebut the presumption that the discrimination against Ms. Barnard was unfair. But, since the EEP was a valid affirmative action measure, the issue was not whether the Plan could overcome such presumption, but whether the decision the National Commissioner made under it was open to challenge. The Court found that the Commissioner properly exercised his discretion. Appointing Ms. Barnard would have aggravated the overrepresentation of white women at that salary level. And, the decision did not bar Ms. Barnard from future promotions.

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisiediens ("SAPD") het die Indiensnemingsplan ("EHOU") aangeneem, wat numeriese doelwitte stel om geslags-en rassediversiteit te produseer. Die appêlant, Me. Barnard, het twee keer aansoek gedoen vir 'n pos in die Nasionale Evalueringsdiens van die SAPD in 2005. Ten spyte van op die kortlys wees, ondervra, en aanbeveel as die beste geskik kandidaat, het sy nie die posisie op beide geleenthede gekry nie. Hierdie saak gaan oor haar tweede poging, waar die Nasionale Kommissaris nie Me. Barnard aangestel het nie op die grond dat dit nie rasseverteenwoordiging op daardie salarisvlak sou verbeter nie en dat dit nie nodig was om die vakature onmiddellik te vul nie omdat die pos nie krities was nie. Terwyl die Arbeidshof bevind het dat SAPD teen die appêlant onbillik gediskrimineer het, het die Arbeidsappèlhof ten gunste van die SAPD bevind. Op verdere appèl het die Hoogste Hof van Appèl ("SCA") die Arbeidsappèlhof se besluit omgekeer en gehou dat Me. Barnard die slagoffer van onbillike diskriminasie op grond van ras was, in die skending van artikel 9(3) van die Grondwet en artikel 6(1) van die Wet op Billike Werksgeleenthede (die Wet). Die Konstitusionele Hof het die SAPD laat appelleer en die SCA se beslissing ten gunste van Me. Barnard omgekeer. Soos die Hof opgemerk het, het die SCA bevind dat die SAPD versuim het om die vermoede dat die diskriminasie teen Me. Barnard onregverdig was te weerlê. Maar aangesien die EHOU 'n geldige regstellende aksieplan was, was die kwessie nie of die plan so 'n vermoede kon oorkom nie, maar of die Nasionale Kommissaris se besluit daaronder oop was om te daag. Die hof het bevind dat die Kommissaris sy diskresie behoorlik uitgeoefen het. Die aanstelling van Me. Barnard sou die oorverteenwoordiging van wit vroue op daardie salarisvlak vererger het. Die besluit het nie Me. Barnard van toekomstige promosies belet nie.