Disabled woman sues CTICC for over R1.5m
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WHEELCHAIR-BOUND Makgosi Letimile, 37, from Woodstock, has decided to take her former employer, the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), to the Labour Court, suing it for more than R1.5 million.
Letimile became wheelchair-bound in 2016 after contracting TB meningitis. After two years of job hunting, she was employed as a food and beverage administrator at the CTICC on August 6, 2019 as part of a targeted recruitment drive for disabled people initiated by the CTICC.
According to court papers submitted to the Labour Court, she worked at the CTICC for at least 20 months before being involved in a retrenchment process in early 2021, which resulted in her automatic unfair dismissal in April 2021.
Letimile, who is is a sex columnist, described herself as an independent sex toy reviewer who laughs at her own jokes, but when it comes to her dignity she doesn’t toy around.
It is for this reason that she decided to take her previous employer to the Labour Court. She claimed that she experienced discrimination while employed at the CTICC on the prohibited grounds of her disability and/or the intersectional grounds of her disability, race and gender, her automatically unfair dismissal for operational reasons, and the violation of her constitutionally enshrined, fundamental human rights to dignity, bodily and psychological integrity, freedom of expression and freedom of association.
Letimile’s attorney, Hayley Galgut of Malcolm Lyons and Brivik Inc, said her client’s claims were not based on an isolated instance of discrimination.
“They are based on a succession of incidents and experiences that cumulatively establish a pattern of unfair discriminatory treatment, victimisation, disregard and exclusion by the CTICC.”
She said this included promises made to Letimile that her disability would be accommodated, and in particular that she would be provided with training to support her difficult re-entry into the job market. “However, the promise of a disability friendly workplace was not realised. Instead the working environment was hostile,” Galgut said.
She also pointed out another incident where Letimile’s requests to collect her medication and go for her annual vital check-up were refused, putting her client’s life at risk.
“They failed to respond to Letimile’s requests for disability awareness and sensitivity training in the workplace. Letimile was also not provided with the appropriate equipment to do her job.
“The CTICC did not provide flexible working arrangements to accommodate the impact of load shedding and transport-related difficulties on a disabled wheelchair user.”
Galgut also pointed to further allegations that the CTICC took issue with Letimile’s involvement in the advocacy of black women's health and disabled women's health.
“Letimile writes articles about the use of sex toys and how it assists with the management of disability-related incontinence.”
In 2020, Letimile referred to herself as a “sex worker” in an article she wrote regarding women’s health, focusing on black women and sex toys.
Letimile explained that she referred to herself as a “sex worker” in recognition that she had evaluated and reviewed the use of sex toys for rehabilitative purposes and because she had received payment for the review.
Galgut said her client had never mentioned where she worked or disclosed the identity of her employer.
In court documents, Galgut mentioned that the CTICC said the sex toy article could be a risk to its reputation and bring the company into disrepute.
The document further claimed that the CTICC warned that the article breached its code of good conduct, social media and moonlighting policy.
The document said the CTICC then allegedly demanded that she provide personal medical records as well as other proof of information published in her private capacity regarding the use of vibrators, traditionally thought of as sex toys, in assisting with the management and rehabilitation of disability-related incontinence, as well as with her identifying with sex workers because she had once been paid for evaluating such devices.
Galgut said these were some of the reasons her client had approached the Labour Court.
“Letimile will be suing her previous employer for R250 000 for pain and suffering, R250 000 for humiliation, compensation equivalent to 24 months for automatic unfair dismissal and retrenchment, and furthermore R1 000 000 for violation of fundamental rights.
“Letimile also put in a claim that the CTICC be directed to pay for the cost of the suit, pay interest on all amounts awarded and finally wants relief to be granted.”
Galgut said they were waiting on the CTICC to file its opposing statement and they would then wait for a date to proceed in court.
Dominic Arendse, a spokesperson for the CTICC, said the CTICC intended opposing this matter.
“Pleadings are not yet closed, and our attorneys have not had an opportunity to file our response, due on a date mutually agreed upon by the parties.
“The issues will be decided in the Labour Court in due course.”