Warn­ing on in­quiry dan­ger

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

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.

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