Protection against unfair discrimination in the workplace: are the courts getting it right?
Introduction: No area of South African law is more critical than the prohibition of unfair discrimination, especially in the workplace. Under apartheid, discrimination against workers on grounds such as race and sex was not only permitted; it was legally enforced. In addition, employers had a relatively free hand to discriminate on grounds such as religion, disability or political opinion. No stable economy, let alone a democratic society, can be built on such foundations. The eradication of “unfair discrimination” in the workplace was essential to developing the new employment dispensation envisaged by the Constitution and the Labour Relations Act of 1995 (‘LRA’). Section 6 of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 (‘EEA’) now embodies this objective