An employee has a right not to be subjected to racial
discrimination in the workplace. Failure by an employer to
eliminate racist conduct in the workplace is unlawful.
In a recently reported Labour Court judgement the applicant
relocated with his family from Durban to Brixton and moved into a
residential complex provided by his employer that was shared with
The applicant is an Indian man and his fellow colleagues were
The applicant and his family were subjected to various forms of
racial abuse from his white colleagues and their families. The
employee laid a complaint to his station commander but the
The applicant's fellow employees were only reprimanded for
their racial abuse after a new station commander was appointed.
They were threatened with dismissal if they did not stop harassing
the applicant, however the discrimination continued.
The applicant was verbally and physically abused, and his wife
and children were subjected to the same racial abuse. The employer
never took any active steps to put an end to the racism despite
numerous and continuous complaints by the applicant.
There was a violent incident where the applicant was attacked
and beaten with a sjambok by his colleagues while he was being
harassed, and he defended himself with a knife and a minor injury
to one of the employees resulted.
The applicant was the only one who was charged for bringing the
reputation of the employer into disrepute. He was subjected to a
disciplinary enquiry and he was found guilty of the charges
levelled against him.
The court was called upon to decide on this issue as a result of
this incident. In applying the law to the facts the court
considered section 6(1) of the Employment Equity Act.
The Act prohibits discrimination against an employee in an
employment practice on the basis of race.
Harassment in the workplace on the basis of one's race
amounts to unfair discrimination, which is prohibited by law and
An employee, who contravenes the Employment Equity Act by
harassing his fellow employees at work, must be reported to the
employer and the employer must consult with the parties involved
and take all the necessary steps to eliminate the alleged
An employer who fails to take active steps to put an end to the
discrimination and harassment is acting unlawfully. An employer is
expected to do everything reasonably practical to ensure that his
employees do not contravene the Employment Equity Act.
The employees' conduct against the applicant was found to be
overtly racist in nature and unfair.
The court also found that the fact that the harassment occurred
outside working times was not an excuse for the inaction of the
employer, because an employer may discipline his employees for
misconduct committed outside the workplace if it has a bearing on
the employment relationship, taking into account that the employees
all live in the residential complex provided by the employer as a
result of their employment.
The conduct of the employer was found to be unlawful in that he
failed to take steps to stop the harassment. The applicant was
awarded monetary compensation arising from the incident.
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Employees must understand the notice periods stipulated by law. When an employee gives notice of their resignation to an employer, they is advising the employer that they will cease to work for the employer from a certain date.
Nigeria is a federal constitutional republic located on the west coast of Africa. Modern Nigeria has its origins as a British colony through the 19th and 20th century until it achieved independence in 1960.
The jurisprudential basis is pithily expressed as staying in sync with the global position on employment relationship, easily summed up as "International Labour Standard" and "International Best Practice".
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