Today's Labour News

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labourcourtsThe Saturday Star reports that a recent Labour Appeal Court (LAC) ruling has sent a stern warning to employers to be more tolerant of their employees’ religious beliefs.  

The court ruled in favour of Deidre Beverley Faris, who took her employer, TDF Network Africa, to court over what she deemed was an unfair dismissal over her unavailability to work over her Sabbath.  The court agreed that the Seventh Day Adventist member, who abstains from work from Friday evenings to Saturday evenings for religious reasons, was dismissed unfairly and awarded her 12 months’ compensation.  Faris told the LAC that the company was aware when she observed the Sabbath and that this prohibited her from working during this time.  But TDF Network Africa went on to fire her from her managerial position at the company for “incapacity”, arguing that it was an inherent requirement for someone in her position to participate in the company’s stocktaking.  That duty was a requirement of the logistics and transport service provider and the task was conducted once a month, on a Saturday.  The court found that the employee would not have been dismissed had it not been for her religious beliefs, and that the employer had discriminated against her for complying with those beliefs.  It emphasised that a legitimate commercial rationale was not sufficient to demonstrate fair discrimination, and went on to highlight the need for religious tolerance in the workplace.  The Saturday Star report goes on to indicate the implications of the judgment for employers.

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