Om onbillike diskriminasie in die werkplek te bewys, behels verskeie stappe. Ten eerste moet daar ŉ oortuigende grond of rede aangevoer word, dan moet spesifieke negatiewe praktyke of optredes bewys word en ten slotte moet die nadelige gevolge van die beweerde diskriminasie gewigtig genoeg wees om diskriminasie daar te stel.
Diskriminasie is voorheen as ŉ onderafdeling van onbillike arbeidspraktyke gesien. Mettertyd het die wetgewer hierdie terme van mekaar begin onderskei en in aparte wette gekodifiseer. Diskriminasie wat tot ontslag lei, word in die Wet op Arbeidsverhoudinge (WAV) van 1995 as ŉ subtipe van outomatiese onbillike ontslag (artikel 197) omskryf. Die onbillike optrede van die werkgewer teenoor ŉ werknemer wat nog in diens is en soms diskriminasie kan insluit, word in die Wet op Gelyke Indiensneming (WGI) as onbillike diskriminasie verbied (artikel 6).
Hierdie artikel verken in die eerste plek die geskiedenis oor die wyse waarop onbillike diskriminasie ŉ selfstandige eisoorsaak geword het. Die aard van die gelyste en sogenaamde arbitrêre gronde en die verskil tussen hulle het heelwat bespreking uitgelok en is die tweede fokus van hierdie ondersoek. Die ietwat gebrekkige artikel 11 van die Wet op Gelyke Indiensneming (soos in 1998) kom ook onder die loep. ŉ Derde fokus is die bewyslas in sodanige dispute. Die rol van die Internasionale Arbeidsorganisasie se Konvensie 111 word ondersoek en invloedryke beslissings van die howe word ook bespreek. Daar word krities gevra of ŉ bewese grond in alle gevalle ŉ noodsaaklike vereiste moet wees om diskriminasie te bewys. Ten slotte word gekyk na die waarde wat die wysigings, soos vervat in die Wysigingswet op Gelyke Indiensneming (Januarie 2014), kan toevoeg en word enkele ander voorstelle gemaak wat implementering met die oog op toekomstige beslegting van dispute kan fasiliteer.
From the title of the article three main topics emerge: unfair discrimination, arbitrary grounds and the burden of proof.
Unfair discrimination is a sensitive topic in South Africa. Over decades it was a priority of the legislator to counteract unfair discrimination in the work place. It entails a long, yet fascinating history. The saga is not yet completed, inter alia in the light of the amendments introduced by the Employment Equity Amendment Act which was signed into statute by the State President in January 2014.
Discrimination was previously seen a subspecies of unfair labour practices. The first aim of this article is to relate the history of how the legislator separated unfair discrimination from the bigger umbrella term of unfair labour practices and gave it an independent standing in two statutes. It is now associated with either dismissal or conduct by the employer where an employment relationship still exists. Discrimination which is followed by dismissal is proscribed in the Labour Relations Act (the LRA) of 1995 as automatic unfair dismissal (section 197). Unfair discrimination towards an employee who is still working for an employer is prohibited in the Employment Equity Act (the EEA) of 1998 (section 6). To succeed with a claim for unfair discrimination in the work place three steps are indicated. Firstly an acceptable ground or reason must be alleged, then specific detrimental practices or conduct by the employer must be disclosed and lastly the negative impact on the employee must be forceful enough to be deemed as unfair discrimination. The respondent has the opportunity to rebut the assertion that the alleged discrimination was fair.
Although unfair discrimination has been established as an independent cause of action in both the LRA and the EEA, some problems arose in deciding these disputes in court.
Much uncertainty surrounds the role and nature of the listed and so called arbitrary grounds for discrimination and the difference between the two. This is the second focus of this article. Debate ensued with regard to the sustainability of the arbitrary grounds, also called the unspecified or unlisted grounds for discrimination and how the court must decide on these grounds. This article examines the source, role, nature and validity of arbitrary grounds and how they differ from the listed grounds. Finally the burden of proof in these matters is also considered. It seems that the burden of proof in the case of listed grounds should differ from that of arbitrary grounds, judging from the amendments already passed in parliament.
The discussion mostly follows chronology, but sometimes deviates from this to compare and contrast certain legal opinions.
The role of Convention 111 of the International Labour Organization is also re-examined and the conclusion is that the courts should again take proper notice of it. Important decisions of the courts are discussed as well as the amendments made to the labour acts to curb the problems experienced in jurisprudence. The somewhat inadequate section 11 of the EEA (as in 1998) is scrutinized. The prerequisite that an acceptable ground for discrimination must be proven to establish discrimination is specifically challenged. The possible value added by the amendments affected in the Employment Equity Amendment Act of 2014 is looked into and lastly some recommendations are made to facilitate the implementation of these amendments with the view to future dispute resolution.