Two weeks ago, we looked at who ‘designated employers’ are under the Employment Equity Act (EEA). Very importantly, we said that designated employers must create work opportunities for designated groups. In this article, we’ll unpack the definition of ‘designated groups’.

What Does ‘Designated Groups’ Mean?

According to the EEA, these groups refer to the following people:

  • Black people (in other words, black people, coloureds or Indians),
  • Women, and
  • People with disabilities.

These people must be citizens of the Republic of South Africa by birth or descent. Alternatively, they must have become citizens of the Republic of South Africa through naturalisation. However, they were not able to do so earlier because of apartheid.

What Is Discrimination?

Discriminating against anyone – be they designated groups or not – is expressly forbidden. This is in terms of the Constitution as well as the EEA. Discrimination is defined as excluding or preferring a person, directly or indirectly, in any employment policy or practice based on prohibited grounds.

Discrimination Can Be Both Fair and Unfair

You are probably thinking that we are incorrect, that discrimination can only be unfair. Discrimination can be fair, for example, when talking about ‘inherent requirements of a job’.

Nthuse Norman Lebepe – in his thesis Inherent Requirements Of The Job As A Defence To A Claim Of Unfair Discrimination: Comparison Between South Africa And United States Of America – defines this phrase:

“The phrase ‘inherent requirement of a job’ contains two important words that together determine its meaning.

“The word ‘inherent’ is usually taken to mean a permanent and essential quality or attitude (of something, in this case a job, while the word ‘requirement’ carries with it an element of compulsion).

“From this can be inferred that only essential job duties should be taken into account and that if the requirement is not met, the job can not be done.”

For example, if a job advertisement specifically states that a male actor is required for a job – and a female actor takes issue with this, saying that the casting directors are discriminating based on gender – this discrimination is justified. This is because the successful candidate being a man is an inherent requirement of the job.

At our Employment Equity Training – which is happening in Cape Town from 30 – 31 August 2017 – we unpack Employment Equity and answer your questions about the subject. Contact Barbara on 021 418 1617 for more information and to book.