Interdicting an in-house disciplinary enquiry with reference to Rabie v Department of Trade and Industry 2018 ZALCJHB 78
Rabie v Department of Trade and Industry 2018 ZALCJHB 78 (5 March 2018) provides a prism through which arguably core aspects of the purpose-built labour dispute resolution processes can be examined. The issues underlying this case can be condensed into one question: Under what circumstances will the Labour Court intervene in a pending disciplinary hearing? As such, four stages of enquiry will be explored in this article. Since applications for interim relief entail deviation from the ordinary court rules, the first stage of this inquiry revolves around the reasons for urgency, and why urgent relief is necessary. The second stage of inquiry delves into exceptional circumstances warranting interdicting incomplete disciplinary proceedings. In this instance, the investigation arises against the backdrop of the intersection between sec. 188A process (as per the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995) and in-house disciplinary hearings. The third stage of investigation – into the doctrine of election – addresses the difficulties arising when the employer makes an about-turn on the pre-dismissal arbitration process and convenes a parallel workplace disciplinary hearing. The last stage of inquiry considers the delicate questions concerning double jeopardy and the exercise of management’s powers of review over the outcome of disciplinary enquiries. Rabie demonstrates that, where the employer abuses the disciplinary process, the detrimental consequences on the employee would constitute compelling circumstances justifying interdicting disciplinary proceedings.