- Shirley Simmadari was fired from Absa after allegations of gross misconduct
- She brought the case to the high court in a claim against Absa for unfair dismissal based on racial discrimination
- In the case it was revealed that she harassed and bullied subordinates
Shirley Simmadari‚ former head of sales at Absa Corporate and Investment Bank‚ claimed she was unfairly dismissed and racially victimised‚ but Cape Town Labour Court judge Anton Steenkamp said she had failed to prove this.
Simmadari‚ 60‚ from Johannesburg‚ was fired for gross misconduct. In his judgment‚ Steenkamp said she harassed and bullied subordinates.
"For example, she referred to individuals as “monkeys”; handed out inappropriate gifts such as oversized playing cards for Spangenberg (a reflection on his age) and gifts of a sexual nature; and threatened their jobs.
"... she referred to management as 'old white men who do not know what they’re doing' and 'oxygen thieves'; with regard to Spangenberg and Deist she made references to 'old white men and old age homes'; and made comments about 'boere'."
Simmadari told the court Absa treated her differently from one of her subordinates‚ a white man‚ who was “allowed to retire gracefully”. She said that he was guilty of poor performance, and Absa had done nothing to act on it, Briefly.co.za learned.
Steenkamp ruled that Simmadari was the man's superior, with sole discretion over disciplinary measures, which made her responsible for enacting procedures for poor performance.
In her affidavit‚ Simmadari said she was “targeted for dismissal through artificial changes because of her race ... and treated differently through victimisation and harassment ... due to the fact that she is a black spearheading transformation”.
But she had failed to identify any individual who had been treated differently from her based on race.
“On her version‚ even if she was white and pursued transformation‚ she might still have been victimised. Consequently‚ whatever her race‚ this had no link to her alleged discrimination.
“She has not established that she was dismissed on the grounds of her race rather than for misconduct; and she has not shown that she was treated differently to [her subordinate] because of her race‚ gender or conscience.”
Steenkamp ordered Simmadari to pay Absa’s costs‚ saying she had made “far-reaching allegations” against the bank without any basis for doing so.
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