Chef’s Warehouse waitress fired for not pooling R150 tip

Johannesburg Labour Court has upheld a CCMA ruling that her dismissal was fair and correct

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Illustration: Lisa Nelson

  • The firing of a waitress at Chef’s Warehouse for not pooling her tips has been upheld by the Johannesburg Labour Court.
  • Judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje said her actions were “self-serving and bordered on greed”.
  • The judge ruled that the CCMA’s finding – that her dismissal for misconduct and gross dishonesty was fair – was correct.

A waitress, who was fired for not declaring that she had received a R150 cash tip, has failed in her Labour Court bid to challenge this.

Johannesburg Labour Court Judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje ruled that the dismissal of Nyaradzo Taguzu and the subsequent confirmation of this at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was fair and reasonable.

Her actions, the judge said, were “self-serving and bordered on greed”.

Taguzu was employed at Chef’s Warehouse, Maison Estate, in 2016. She was fired in 2018 after a disciplinary process into allegations of misconduct relating to dishonesty for failing to declare her tips.

She referred the dispute to the CCMA, where it was heard by Commissioner Richard Heath.

At the CCMA, the company said it had implemented a policy in December 2017 after consulting with staff, in terms of which all waiters would be required to disclose all their cash tips.

The purpose of this was to ensure that at least 25% of tips were shared amongst all back house staff, who also contributed to customer service and experience.

Liam Tomlin, one of the owners, said that staff had been consulted, but he conceded that Taguzu had refused to sign the policy.

He said, however, she had verbally undertaken to follow it and she had declared her tips on the same day the policy was implemented.

However, it was discovered that she had not done so on 10 and 11 February. Tomlin had asked three customers who confirmed they had tipped her in cash.

He was of the view that she had acted dishonestly, broken the trust relationship, and effectively stolen from her fellow employees.

A customer, Carol Grassman, also testified at the hearing. She conceded to having a business relationship with the restaurant. She said she had dined at the restaurant with her husband. She had paid the bill with a credit card and tipped Taguzu R150 in cash.

Taguzu denied the allegations. She disputed that there had been proper consultation and said the new policy had been forced on her and other waitresses.

Grassman, she said, had fabricated her version.

But Heath said if Taguzu had concerns about the policy, she should have referred a dispute to the CCMA.

He found Grassman to be a credible witness and that Taguzu had been deceitful and dishonest.

Taguzu, in her review before the Labour Court, said the commissioner had not properly applied his mind to the facts and had reached an unfair and unreasonable decision.

Read the Labour Court judgment here

However, Judge Tlhotlhalemaje said he could find no fault with the commissioner’s findings.

He said the policy was meant to benefit all for their collective effort.

“Given the applicant’s unreasonable resistance to the policy, her conduct in my view was not only self-serving but equally bordered on greed.”

He said it was not clear if she had benefited from the general pool of tips while failing to make her own declarations but, if indeed she did, “it fortifies the conclusions that she was indeed greedy”.

“It also appears that she sought to comply with the policy as and when it suited her,” he said.

The commissioner had correctly found there was nothing invalid about the policy, the judge ruled.

As regarded the allegation that Grassman had fabricated her version, the judge said the commissioner would have noted the record of the disciplinary hearing during which other witnesses testified that they had given her cash tips.

The judge said the commissioner’s conclusions “clearly fall within a band of reasonableness”, and dismissed the review.

TOPICS:  Labour

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