In the case of University of Kwa Zulu Natal v Pillay and Others Case No: DA09/2015, the issue of when an employee will be liable for the costs of an appeal and a review were considered in the Labour Appeal Court.

The employee admitted that he had lied to a tribunal established by the university to inquire into the improper awarding of a degree and other suspicious activities. 

The Labour Court upheld the finding that dismissal was justified but sent the matter to the same Commissioner to reconsider the issue of procedural fairness.  The Commissioner found that the dismissal was procedurally fair.

On review, the Labour Court ruled that the dismissal was procedurally unfair and granted the employee 10 months’ salary.  On appeal the Labour Appeal Court noted that the prior court had based its findings about procedural fairness on the view that the employee had not had a proper opportunity to answer the charges levelled against him.  The disciplinary inquiry had been convened to establish whether the employee had lied under oath to the investigating tribunal. 

The employee had been given a full opportunity to address the university council’s view that he should be dismissed. The presiding officer found that the employment relationship had broken down and recommended that sanction. 

The Commissioner’s finding that the dismissal was procedurally fair was eminently reasonable and the Labour Court had not explained its finding to the contrary.  The appeal was upheld and the employee was ordered to pay the costs of both the review and the appeal.

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Our legal team – which Jonathan Goldberg is an integral part of – deals with situations such as these all the time. If you have a similar situation in your company, please don’t hesitate to contact the team.