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Labour: Dismissal for lying ruled procedurally fair

The Labour Court has found in favour of a Bellville security firm that dismissed an employee for gross dishonesty when he lied to his boss about a second-hand tool cutter. According to a Cape Argus report, Adenaan Moses was dismissed from his job at the firm when he was found to have taken a second-hand cutter from the tool-shelf and tried to pass it off as his own to his manager, identified in court papers only as H Spence, to get a new cutter. The incident was caught on CCTV. When Moses took the matter to the CCMA the arbitrator confirmed he was guilty of dishonesty and found there was no procedural unfairness in the conduct of the inquiry.

Nonetheless, the arbitrator found the dismissal was substantively unfair because the employer had acted inconsistently in not dismissing other employees who had been found guilty of similar conduct. It had emerged in the case that Infrasek MD, Isak Venter, spoke to all the employees and gave them a chance to own up to their dishonesty. All the employees implicated, except Moses, admitted they had taken items without permission from the store. They were issued with final written warnings. Reviewing the matter Judge Robert Lagrange said: ‘While it is true there was no guarantee that progressive discipline would be successful merely because dishonesty had been admitted, it does not follow it put Moses’ conduct on a par with theirs. He never apologized or admitted any wrongdoing, so this could never have been a mitigating factor in his favour.’

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