Identifying and combatting workplace discrimination has become a serious topic for South Africans; and it is because of the multicultural complexities of our society that this has happened. In a country of variety such as ours, it is no surprise that people often wrestle with the notion and practice of workplace discrimination based on culture, race, gender, religion and disability.
Though the CCMA is inundated with cases of discrimination, which means we are no closer to a better understanding of a multi-faceted working environment than we would like to be. So, to help get a better understanding across, here is a better look at what constitutes workplace discrimination:
Defining workplace discrimination
According to delegates at the department of labour, workplace discrimination can be defined as the disproportionate treatment, employment conditions and payment of employees who are doing the same work, or that of similar value to others; often based on differences in race, gender, culture, religion, physical and mental ability.
By this definition, it is the responsibility of all employers to foster a working environment that protects individuals from this sort of treatment, either by administrators or co-workers.
Discrimination based on race, culture and religion
We live in a society that is made up of 11 official languages and cultures, as well as scores of unofficial ones. South Africa is a cultural melting-pot; a fact which makes it vibrant, but also creates a number of challenges.
Keeping discrimination out of the workplace, particularly as far as cultural, racial and religious differences are concerned, is a crucial task for employers. This can be done by creating policies surrounding the fair treatment of all individuals in the business, regardless of their background.
Discrimination based on gender
Gender based discrimination is rife in the workplace, not only in South Africa, but the world over. Discrimination based on the perceived ability of women, the value of their input, pregnancies and marital status unfortunately define the way in which many women work in our country, which sets them at a disadvantage when compared to their male counterparts.
Because of this, it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that female and male staff members are treated equally, paid no differently, and are given ample opportunities to grow in their careers. They need to ensure that female employees are protected against discrimination and sexual harassment.
Discrimination based on disability
Disabilities in the workplace can take many forms. Both mental and physical disabilities can have an impact on productivity, but often enough will not impact an employee’s performance if they are given adequate support surrounding their condition. Unfortunately, disabilities often lead to prejudice amongst employers and co-workers, are seen as not serious, or may even endanger an individual’s job security.
It I therefor in an employer’s best interest to treat such individuals with dignity, respect and fairness, and to provide them support when they need it.
Contact Michael Krawitz Attorneys today
If you would like more information surrounding South African labour law, be sure to contact a consultant from Michael Krawitz Attorneys today for details on our services, legal advice or more information.