Warning on inquiry danger
AN INTERESTING case has just been debated in Port Elizabeth, where an employee was accused of racism in the workplace before the company made proper initial enquiries into the charges.
Unfortunately, the inquiry went ahead (but it) eventually cleared the employee.
This investigation and hearing caused major depression and posttraumatic shock for that employee.
The case, Goodyear (Pty) Ltd v Witz, was then referred to the Eastern Cape High Court because the employee was unable to work after the deterioration in his health. It has been determined that this was caused by the improper disciplinary action.
Employers need to be warned that they must properly investigate allegations before going ahead with a disciplinary inquiry.
The issue with regard to sexual harassment has also become a nasty game that many employees play.
I have just been involved in a case where two women at a workplace accused their manager of sexual harassment and each acted as a witness for the other. The accusation alone caused enormous stress for the manager and for the company. The company felt with allegations of this nature it was necessary for them to go ahead with a disciplinary inquiry. After a rather lengthy disciplinary inquiry it became clear that the allegations were absolute nonsense. Unfortunately, the allegations have created a sense of “if there’s smoke there must have been a fire”.
The allegations of sexual harassment have also almost ruined the manager’s marriage.
This is a plea to human resource managers at companies to carefully assess situations before they go ahead with a ruinous enquiry.