Discrimination is to show favour, prejudice, or bias for or against a person on any arbitrary grounds,[1] Section 6 (1) of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 (“EEA”) as amended provides that no person may unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against any employee in any employment policy or practice. Such discrimination includes race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic, or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language, birth or on any other arbitrary ground.

The Act further provides that harassment of an employee is a form of unfair discrimination is prohibited on any one or a combination of grounds of unfair discrimination listed in subsection 1.


Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 (PEPUDA) defines discrimination as meaning:


“any act or omission, including a policy, law, rule, practice, condition or situation which directly or indirectly:


(a) imposes burdens, obligations or disadvantage on, or


(b) withholds benefits, opportunities or advantages from any person on one or more of the prohibited grounds.”


Unfair discrimination within the workplace may include:

  • Discrimination when retrenching employees can be based on race, wherein only employees of a certain race are the only ones retrenched.
  • Discrimination in pay for equally qualified employees who perform the same duties in the same position.
  • Not giving same benefits or compensation for employees for same work.
  • Discrimination against an employee by refusing promotion based on any of the listed grounds.
  • Paying the employees less salary because of gender or race, or any of the listed grounds.

Therefore, the are two types of discrimination in the workplace that exist. Firstly, we have Direct discrimination and Indirect discrimination.

Direct discrimination is where the employer allows certain employees to use the restrooms in the facility based on their race or pays men more than women for the same work.

Indirect discrimination is often more difficult to prove, is when the employers allow and turns a blind eye, to, for example, sexual harassment of female employees by male employees.



[1] The South African Labour Guide

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