Employers Beware: Some CCMA Commissioners Will Seek To Burden You With “Social Responsibility!”

Employers Beware: Some CCMA Commissioners Will Seek To Burden You With “Social Responsibility!”

I attended a conciliation hearing, together with my client, at the Pietermaritzburg office of the CCMA concerning the dismissal of an employee for theft.

At the internal disciplinary hearing, the accused employee admitted having stolen from the company. She again confirmed this at the conciliation hearing. This should have been the end of the matter – either the commissioner should have advised her to withdraw her case or the matter should have been certified as unresolved.

However, the commissioner told us that since the applicant was pregnant we should reinstate her, thereby meeting our “social responsibility”. The commissioner placed a lot of pressure on my client to settle by way of reinstatement, so much so, that we were made to feel like the guilty party.

Since we stood firm on the matter, the commissioner called in a senior commissioner “from upstairs” who also did his best to get us to reinstate the applicant, as she was pregnant and we had a social responsibility to look after her.

We stood firm (but many other respondents might have buckled under such pressure – prolonged pressure) and we did not settle.

The fact of the matter is that the employee had been fired for theft (that had been factually established) and which misconduct had been confirmed by the applicant, yet the CCMA commissioners sought to impose a “social responsibility” on the respondent to reinstate the applicant “because she was pregnant”.

Warning to respondent employers: stand firm and don’t buckle to this “social responsibility” nonsense, whereby we are expected to forgive criminality in the workplace.

Greg Coombs

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