Unfair discrimination – mental illness

With reference to your informative article entitled “Mental health & South Africa’s Community”, I have consulted with many employees with diverse work related problems who have been discriminated against on the grounds of mental disability. Once the employer discovers the fact that the employee is diagnosed with a mental illness, it usually results in the employee being harassed and victimized. The employee may become severely depressed, fail to fulfil his/her duties and responsibilities in a productive manner and lack the willingness to continue tendering his/ her services. Employers who lack knowledge of mental illness unfairly discriminate against the employee. As a result thereof, the employee may resign voluntarily, may conclude a settlement agreement, may allege a constructive dismissal or unfair discrimination case by declaring a labour dispute. On the other hand, there are employers who do not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against the employee and they strive to prohibit and eliminate unfair discrimination in the workplace. However, employers in South Africa have a long way to go to promote equality and prevent unfair discrimination in the workplace.

Bernard Reisner
Cape Labour and Industrial Consultants