Discovery Health has fired 10 employees for bad-mouthing the company in a WhatsApp Group during the lockdown.
The Sunday Times reported that the workers started the group to support each other after contracting COVID-19 at work in April.
The employees complained to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) about their dismissal, arguing that they were unfairly dismissed and demanding 12 months’ salary from the company in compensation.
The women’s lawyers, Nkisinathi Malgas, told the newspaper that Discovery Health had invaded its employees’ privacy by accessing WhatsApp messages “without their consent or a court order. This was gross violation to their right to privacy and the Protection of Personal Information Act.”
Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach said a whistleblower and a member of the WhatsApp group shared the content of their discussions, which included planning and initiating efforts to maliciously shut down the company.
In its letter to one of the affected workers, Discovery Health said the employee had “shared information and messages that were clearly prejudicial to and derogatory of the company.”
The company also accused them of making false and damaging statements about the company to an external party and attempting to organise a shutdown of Discovery offices in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.