Many people are under the misconception that only kids are bullied on the playground or in schools and therefore adults cannot be bullied. That is very far from the truth. Workplace bullying is a sad reality.
As far as South African Labour Laws are concerned, the term bullying is not specifically defined or referred to in any of the legislation. According to the CCMA Information Sheet Harassment, “bullying” is cited as an example of harassment.
In terms of Section 6(1) of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 [EEA], “No person may unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against an employee, in any employment policy or practice, on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscious, belief, political opinion, culture, language and birth.”
Section 6(2) provides that: “Harassment of an employee is a form of unfair discrimination and is prohibited on any one, or a combination of grounds of unfair discrimination listed in subsection (1).”
Every employee has the right to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace. If an employee is being harassed, the normal grievance procedure is available to that employee. Once the case has been reported to management or HR, there is a duty on the employer to investigate and if necessary, they must take appropriate disciplinary action against the harasser.
If the matter remains unresolved, a dispute can be referred in terms of the EEA for unfair discrimination and if an employee is dismissed based on the listed grounds, then they can refer an automatically unfair dismissal dispute.
In the case of Simmadari v ABSA Bank Ltd (2018) 39 ILJ 1819 (LC), the Labour Court found that a dismissed employee may refer both claims simultaneously.
In a nutshell: Employees should not tolerate bullying in the workplace and should not be scared into silence. Employees must be made aware that there are remedies available to them.
Remember, MISA is just a phone call away.