Sometimes, an employee facing dismissal will try to rely on a technicality in order to avoid the sanction posed. The case of South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union obo Vas / Carnival City Casino – (2019) 28 CCMA 8,37,6 (CCMA) illustrates such a matter.

The employee was dismissed for gross insubordination after making derogatory and abusive remarks (including the comment that she should “go back to China”) about a manager who had told the employee that the employer would not pay for flowers for her mother’s funeral. The employee admitted uttering the words, which has been captured on videotape, but claimed that she had apologised and that her conduct constituted insolence rather than insubordination.

The Commissioner at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration did not get side-tracked by the technicality. It was concluded that the employee’s conduct amounted to insolence rather than insubordination because the employee had not defied an instruction. The comment had been directed not only to the manager but at the Chinese community generally.

The employee’s anger at the manager was unjustifiable because she had not taken the decision not to buy flowers and offered to personally contribute some of the money needed for the purpose. The employee’s comments were made in the presence of several other employees. The employee had shown no remorse and the Commissioner held that the dismissal was fair.

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