Why South African Labour Court Rules Racial Quotas Unlawful


Trade union Solidarity took the Tshwane Municipality to court over their unfair discrimination against Jan Pretorius; who was deliberately overlooked for promotion based on his race.

Judge Faan Coetzee found the municipality to be inflexible when passing Pretorius over for promotion and more importantly – and with broader consequence – the court found that the municipality’s race-based quota system inconsistent with the South African Employment Equity Act.

Dr. Dirk Hermann from Solidarity said that the labour court also pointed out that the municipality’s quota-based appointment policy is purely numbers-based and has no measurable targets.

 “Therefore, it amounts to the subjective exclusion of individuals from the non-designated group. The judgment makes it clear that government departments that do not have employment equity plans cannot hide behind policy documents that do not have proper employment equity and measurable targets,” Hermann said.

He added that this is a unique judgement as it’s the first time a court of law has found that a white male was unfairly discriminated against.

 “The court found that it was unlawful to fill posts purely on the basis of the national race demography or even to leave posts vacant at the expense of suitably qualified white males. The court also found that the municipality had no legal grounds to exclude a suitably qualified candidate from the interviewing process. In addition, they did not take into account that the position required a scarce skill,” he said.

“This judgment thus sets the necessary legal grounds for future lawsuits on cases of unfair discrimination against individuals from the non-designated group as a result of quotas.”

source: The South African

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