As a result of developments in social discourse around gender and racial dynamics in society and the dramatic innovations in technology in recent years, there has been an increasing need for changes in workplace culture and rules. It has become important for employers to manage their risks in relation to sexual harassment, racism and employees’ social media activities.
There has been, in recent years, a growing realisation and appreciation by our courts of the prevalence and the devastating effects of sexual harassment in the workplace in South Africa. Sexual harassment in the workplace exposes employers to claims of compensation or damages on the basis of vicarious liability and other employees to the risk of dismissal. What are the employer’s obligations when it comes to sexual harassment?
Recently, the Constitutional Court has also been tasked with determining cases dealing with racist remarks in the workplace and their effect on the employment relationship. Does referring to a fellow employee by his or her race amount to racism? Does uttering the “K…” word in the workplace automatically justify dismissal?
Finally, how is an employer supposed to deal with social media misconduct by employees during and outside working hours? Does the fact that an employee makes general offensive, insensitive or racist remarks on social media have an impact on the employment relationship?
We will host a seminar on Friday, 22 June 2018 during which we will consider a number of significant recent judgments in the field of labour law, dealing with topics such as sexual harassment, racism in the workplace and social media misconduct.