Home » Sim Tshabalala-led standard bank ordered to pay former senior employee $91,000 over unfair firing

Sim Tshabalala-led standard bank ordered to pay former senior employee $91,000 over unfair firing

CCMA rules Standard Bank's investigation into Christine Lawson's dismissal was flawed, awarding her $91,000 for unfair termination

by Oluwatosin Racheal Alabi
Sim Tshabalala

Key Points:

  • Standard Bank must pay $91,000 to Christine Lawson for unfair dismissal.
  • CCMA found the bank’s investigation into Lawson’s case was flawed.
  • Lawson was accused of fostering a toxic work environment but lacked substantial evidence.

Sim Tshabalala-led Standard Bank must pay R1.7m ($91,000) to its former head of compliance in the global markets and market abuse department, Christine Lawson. The bank unfairly dismissed her on allegations of a toxic work culture that led to a skills exodus.

Christine Lawson, who earned nearly R2.3m ($123,000) annually, was dismissed in 2023 after being found guilty of charges at a disciplinary hearing. The charges claimed she created a toxic work environment.

However, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) ruled that Standard Bank’s investigation into the allegations was flawed. The CCMA noted that Lawson was dismissed without any grievances lodged against her.

Allegations against Lawson

The charges against Lawson included failing to create a psychologically safe environment for employees from 2019. Her leadership style allegedly caused emotional distress among her team members. The charge sheet detailed that her actions made employees feel excluded and unsupported. This situation led to a high turnover and fearfulness within the team. Some evidence was based on an employee’s resignation letter.

During the arbitration, Standard Bank presented five witnesses, while Lawson brought four. Her witnesses testified that they did not witness any harassment by Lawson. The CCMA found the allegations unconvincing. They stated that the bank failed to prove that Lawson’s management style caused employees to leave. The CCMA’s arbitration award emphasized the need for proper investigations and fair processes.

“A number of your team members (current and recent exits) report that they have/had adopted patterns of behaviour that were/are detrimental to the bank and could pose a risk to the bank,” reads the charge sheet.

Proper investigations and due process

Snyman Attorneys, representing Lawson, highlighted the ruling as a wake-up call for businesses. They stressed the importance of thoroughly investigating allegations of bullying. Due process must be based on evidence and fairness. Standard Bank, while not commenting on specifics, reiterated its commitment to a supportive work environment and proper handling of such allegations.

The CCMA’s ruling in favor of Christine Lawson shows the importance of thorough and fair investigations in workplace disputes.

Standard Bank’s case serves as a reminder for employers to adhere to due process and ensure justice based on solid evidence.

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