Dis-Chem sued over “no-whites” policy

Solidarity will serve legal papers on Dis-Chem this week following its moratorium on the appointment and promotion of white people.

On Monday, 17 October, Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann sent a legal letter to Dis-Chem CEO Ivan Saltzman regarding the moratorium.

Solidarity argued that Dis-Chem could not stand by the memorandum while acting in compliance with the Employment Equity Act (EEA) requirements.

Solidarity gave Dis-Chem until Friday, 21 October, to respond by either:

  • Indicating the manner in which it contends the moratorium on the appointment or promotion of white employees is consistent with the requirements of the EEA, or
  • If it has decided to withdraw the moratorium, issue a public statement and a public apology.

Dis-Chem did not respond by the deadline and now faces legal action for its controversial racial policy.

“South Africa wants to know whether Dis-Chem has only withdrawn the controversial memorandum or the policy as well,” said Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann.

“Instead of providing certainty, Dis-Chem refuses to disclose information. Dis-Chem’s statements are vague and do nothing to create certainty.”

“The fact that Dis-Chem refuses to confirm the information leaves us with no choice but to accept that the policy stands.”

According to Solidarity, Dis-Chem goes beyond what the Employment Equity Act allows.

Solidarity’s litigation strategy will be a mix of an application for the disclosure of information and an application to the Labour Court to declare Dis-Chem’s racial policy unlawful.

Solidarity said the Employment Equity Act prohibits absolute ceilings and quotas and requires flexibility. The Act itself and case law in this regard are clear about this.

“There are legal bounds to race legislation. Dis-Chem is now setting a new norm for the private sector. The law cannot be broken to comply with an Act,” Hermann said.

“Judicial decisions, too, have clearly shown that white employees’ rights must also be protected. Racial legislation and policy must not be a punishment but must focus on redress.”

“Dis-Chem wants to establish a hard-line racial policy. The goal is simply racial representivity, and it has nothing to do with redress.”

Dis-Chem told Daily Investor it will respond to Solidarity should the legal matter progress.

The company preferred not to say whether there is still a moratorium on the appointment of white individuals.