Cronje v Toyota Manufacturing (2001) 21 ILJ 735 (CCMA); (2002) 23 ILJ 1563 (LC)

Principle:

Dismissal may be substantively fair where an employee distributes racist e-mail in contravention of the employer's e-mail usage code.

Facts:

The employee was dismissed for distributing by email a racist cartoon depicting a gorilla with President Mugabe's head transposed on it. The cartoon was widely circulated and upset the company's black staff, of whom there were 3 500. Race and race sensitivity were important in the company and its email policy prohibited the distribution of racist messages. The Labour Court agreed with the CCMA commissioner that the cartoon was racist and inflammatory in the context in which it was distributed. The court was satisfied that dismissal was the appropriate sanction.

Extract from the award:

The fact of the offensive racist stereotype associating black people with apes exists is not disputed. This is a matter of deep moral, social and cultural sensitivity to black people and this sort of offensive racial stereotyping is not by any means limited to black people.