Fired HIV employee wins court bid

2011-02-16 10:41

An award-winning horse-riding instructor and stable manager who was dismissed by his employer for being HIV positive has won his case in the Labour Court in Johannesburg.

The case relates to the unfair dismissal of horse-riding instructor and stable manager, Gary Allpass (48) by Mooikloof Estates in Pretoria.

His employer, Mooikloof Estates, was ordered to pay him a year’s salary and cover legal costs.

The employer claimed they had dismissed Allpass because of a breakdown in trust as he was “dishonest about his illness”.

“Mr Allpass was dismissed immediately after his former employer discovered that he was HIV positive,” the human rights group Section27 said in a statement.

“Mr Allpass is – and at the time of his dismissal was – in good health and fully able to do all the requirements of his job. Indeed, he is an award-winning riding instructor. This was, however, ignored by his employers and he was dismissed on the grounds that he was ‘severely ill’.”

Webber Wentzel Attorneys and Section27 collaborated in bringing the case to court on behalf of Allpass.

“The case is important because it illustrates the prejudices faced by HIV positive individuals on a daily basis and is likely to set a further major precedent on this aspect,” said Section 27.

Allpass, a qualified equestrian judge, testified during the case that his former manager Dawie Malan came to see him “in a bad mood” two weeks after he landed the job.

Allpass, who has lived with HIV for nearly 20 years, told the court that Malan accused him of lying and fired him for being dishonest.

Allpass testified that Malan told him and two colleagues to fill out a questionnaire, which included the fact that he was receiving treatment for deep vein thrombosis. He also revealed that he suffered from asthma and was allergic to penicillin.

Malan testified that Allpass was dismissed because of a “breakdown in trust” as he was “dishonest about his illnesses”.

Mooikloof management said in court papers that it was because Allpass did not reveal his illnesses and allergies that the relationship between them broke down.

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