Unfair Discrimination
Unfair Discrimination

Unfair discrimination occurs when individuals or groups are treated unfairly or unequally based on certain characteristics. Characteristics such as race, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or any of the other grounds listed in section 691) of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998.  Section 6(3) of this Act stipulates that harassment is also a form of unfair discrimination.

On the 18th of March 2022 the Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace was published, which code set out what the term harassment should be understood to be, namely:

  • unwanted conduct, which impairs dignity;
  • which creates a hostile or intimidating work environment for one or more employees or is calculated to, or has the effect of, inducing submission by actual or threatened adverse consequences; and
  • is related to one or more grounds in respect of which discrimination is prohibited in terms of section 6(1) of the Employment Equity Act.

This code sets out examples of the wide range of conduct that could be considered harassment.  Some of the examples included are spreading malicious rumours, ostracizing an employee and bullying.  Click here for a copy of the code.

What Can Employers Do To Prevent Unfair Discrimination?

There are several steps organisations can take to prevent unfair discrimination in the workplace:

  1. Establish clear policies: Employers should have robust policies in place. These policies should explicitly prohibit discrimination based on prohibited grounds and explain the meaning or harassment. These policies need to be communicated to all employees and enforced consistently.
  1. Provide training: Regular training sessions for employees and managers. This helps to raise awareness about discrimination and provide guidance on how to prevent and address discriminatory behavior.
  1. Promote diversity: Actively seek to create a diverse and inclusive work environment by recruiting and hiring employees from different backgrounds and perspectives. Encourage diversity not only in terms of demographics but also in thoughts, experiences, and skills.
  1. Address complaints promptly: Establish procedures for employees to report instances of discrimination or harassment. Ensure that complaints are taken seriously, investigated promptly, and addressed appropriately. Encourage a culture where employees feel comfortable speaking up without fear of retaliation.
  1. Lead by example: Managers and leaders should exemplify behavior that promotes fairness, respect, and inclusivity. They should be held accountable for their actions and demonstrate a commitment to upholding anti-discrimination principles.
  1. Monitor and evaluate: Regularly assess the effectiveness of anti-discrimination measures through employee feedback, surveys, and performance metrics. Make adjustments as needed to address any emerging issues or gaps.
  1. Legal compliance: Ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations governing discrimination in the workplace. Stay informed about changes in legislation and adapt policies accordingly.

Proactive Measures Are Important

By taking these proactive measures, employers will create a workplace culture where all employees are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their background or characteristics.

Need help with legal compliance or training on this topic? Contact us at Kirchmanns Incorporated.

Employment Law is our most widely known area of experience. Not only do we specialise in litigation in this field but we are able to offer consulting services on compliance with all employment related legislation, inc. the Employment Equity Act and Occupational Health and Safety.

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