Dealing with discrimination in the workplace

Dealing with discrimination in the workplace

Monday, 1 March, is Zero Discrimination Day and we look at how you can tackle discrimination in the workplace.

Workplace discrimination
Workplace discrimination/ iStock

Do you dread going to work because you are being discriminated against? 

Many people, especially women and people of colour, have had to deal with discrimination in the workplace. 

What is unfair discrimination? 

There are two types of discrimination - unfair discrimination and fair discrimination. 

CCMA describes unfair discrimination as: "To show favour, prejudice or bias for or against a person on any arbitrary grounds, for example on the basis of race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language and birth by an employer." 

The government website describes fair discrimination as: 

- Discrimination based on affirmative action;

- Discrimination based on inherent requirements of a particular job;

- Compulsory discrimination by law; and

- Discrimination based on productivity.

Examples of unfair discrimination

Prior to the Affirmative Action policy being put in place, many South Africa women were discriminated against in certain positions, especially those of leadership. They would also earn less than their male counterparts for the same jobs because of their gender. 

In 2019, Stats SA’s report revealed that whites earn three times more than blacks. These are just some of the examples of unfair discrimination happening in the workplace. 

What to do when you are discriminated against in the workplace

Dealing with discrimination can be very frustrating. It can even force some people to quit their jobs, but this doesn’t have to happen. 

The South African government protects its citizens against unfair discrimination. 

The Labourguide’s website has formulated steps that employees need to take when dealing with unfair discrimination in the workplace. 

The first step is to write a formal complaint and submit it to your HR manager or employer. 

“Any employee who feels that he/she has been unfairly discriminated against or that an employer has contravened the laws can lodge a grievance in writing with their employer,” states the website. 

If the HR manager or employer is unable to help the complainant, he/she must then refer the matter to the CCMA within six months. 

“If the CCMA is not able to resolve the dispute through conciliation, the matter can either be referred for arbitration (if both parties agree) or to the Labour Court for adjudication,” states the website. 

Image courtesy of iStock/ @Roman Didkivskyi

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