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call girl seeks fair legal deal

By unknown | Feb 05, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

A Cape Town prostitute who claims she was unfairly dismissed is seeking the labour court's help this week, the Woman's Legal Centre (WLC) said yesterday.

A Cape Town prostitute who claims she was unfairly dismissed is seeking the labour court's help this week, the Woman's Legal Centre (WLC) said yesterday.

"The labour court will hear a review on the application of the Labour Relations Act brought by a Cape Town prostitute," said the WLC.

This comes after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) dismissed her case, saying it did not have jurisdiction because she had been employed to do illegal work.

WLC director and the prostitute's attorney, Jennifer Williams, said the application was not about legalising prostitution but ensuring everyone in society was protected by law.

"Prostitutes are vulnerable to exploitation in the employment relationship, both because prostitution is outlawed and because of the nature of what they do."

The Sex Workers' Advocacy and Training organisation (SWEAT) approached the WLC to represent the woman, who is referred to by the pseudonym "Kylie" in court papers, in an application to have the labour court review the CCMA decision.

The WLC said the Labour Relations Act (LRA) protected all "employees" against unfair dismissal.

An "employee" is defined as anybody "who works for another person" for remuneration.

"In other words the LRA protects anybody who is in an employment relationship with someone else - whether their relationship is underpinned by the enforceable contract or not," said Williams.

Kylie has alleged that her rights under the LRA and constitutional rights for fair labour practices - and a right to dignity- have been undermined.

Williams said if the CCMA's interpretation of an employment relationship was upheld, it would exclude a number of employees who deserved legal protection.

"It would exclude all employees who are in an employment relationship but whose contracts of employment are unenforceable for one reason or another."

The labour court has previously accepted employment relationships that were set up without contracts.

Williams said the LRA legally took preference over any other law - except the Constitution.

Therefore, a prostitute could still be protected under it, without prostitution being legalised. [The Sexual Offences Act still criminalises prostitution].

Kylie was employed by Brigitte's Massage Parlour in Cape Town as a sex worker from 1993 until she was dismissed on April 30 2003.

The WLC said Kylie considered the dismissal "procedurally and substantively unfair".

She said she was not informed of the allegations that led to her dismissal. She was also not given the opportunity to state her case as no enquiry was held.

Kylie apparently received a letter terminating her employment and telling her to vacate the premises within a week.

The matter will be heard in the labour court in Cape Town on Thursday. - Sapa


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