Worker given the boot for making a mistake on company parking list

Worker given the boot for making a mistake on company parking list. Picture: File

Worker given the boot for making a mistake on company parking list. Picture: File

Published Mar 6, 2024


An employee, who was fired after she removed the names of two senior black co-workers from the company’s parking list and was accused of substituting it with the names of white employees, turned to the Labour Court sitting in Johannesburg.

The employee, a Ms B Pieterse, was represented by labour union Solidarity in court. She asked that the outcome of arbitration procedures, which confirmed her dismissal, be set aside.

Pieterse was successful in her labour court application, where an acting judge ruled in her favour. The company that fired her, South Bakels Ltd, was ordered to pay her six months’ salary.

Pieterse’s case was that the order which had confirmed her dismissal was substantively unfair.

She was employed by the company in January 2008 as a personal assistant to the transport manager.

During July 2021, she was appointed as an acting fleet manager. About a month later, she updated the company’s parking allocation list. It subsequently became apparent that the names of two black female employees had been removed from the list.

Upset with this, the two women lodged a grievance against Pieterse. She was called to a disciplinary hearing and was initially charged with three charges, one of which was withdrawn.

The remaining charges included that she failed to act within the best interests of the company and/or disrespected it by removing the black senior women from their parking bays which they occupied from 2016 and 2018 respectively.

She was also accused of replacing them with two white women who were juniors and who had recently joined the company. Thus, the company said, she had discriminated against the women whose names were removed from the list.

It, however, later came to light that she had mistakenly substituted the two names with that of a black woman and a white man.

The second charge related to allegations of gross dishonesty in that in the grievance hearing, she had deliberately tried to manufacture evidence by stating that she had received a hard copy from the security officer at work regarding whose names should be on the parking bay list.

Following the disciplinary inquiry, Pieterse was found guilty of both charges and was fired.

Her appeal against her dismissal was also turned down.

On review, it was submitted, on behalf of Pieterse, that uncontested evidence was led that there had been no formal policy or agreed procedure at the company about how parking bays were allocated or amended.

The union said it should be borne in mind that Pieterse had been appointed acting fleet manager for less than a month when the alleged incident occurred.

It was pointed out that she was learning what her position entailed and how things were to be done in her department.

Pieterse testified that she had made a mistake, and her mistake had been rectified the next day when she changed the parking bay list again to include the two names which she had mistakenly removed.

She said that from the outset, she had shown remorse for her mistake.

She said the arbitrator had failed to take into account that there was no policy and/or agreed process by the company in place regarding the allocation of parking bays, yet the arbitrator had found that she had failed to follow company practices.

The arbitrator’s decision to confirm her dismissal was also frowned upon by the union, as during the hearing, he had accepted that she had made a mistake and had rectified it a day later. Yet, he had found her to be dishonest.

Acting Judge L Schäfer-King, in ruling in Pieterse’s favour, found that the arbitrator had failed to consider all the relevant evidence.

Pretoria News

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