In Shoprite Checkers (Pty) Ltd v Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration & Others (2015) 36 ILJ 2273 (LAC), the Labour Appeal Court (“LAC”) upheld the Labour Court’s judgment and agreed with the setting aside of the award made by an arbitrator who held that the dismissal of an employee for a first infraction was fair, based on the application of the employer’s policy of zero tolerance (the employer, a large retailer, had a so-called zero tolerance policy that required employees to declare personal goods in their possession on arrival at work, as part of dealing with shrinkage). The LAC held that the law does not allow an employer to adopt a zero tolerance approach by dismissing for all infractions, regardless of its appropriateness or proportionality to the misconduct. An arbitrator should only accept a zero tolerance approach if the circumstances of the case warrant the employer adopting such an approach. This decision highlights the need for employer zero tolerance policies to be capable of objective justification in arbitration proceedings. Evidence must be shown on the need for a “zero tolerance” approach to the misconduct and the proportionality of the dismissal to the misconduct. This is especially the case where the employer seeks to justify the dismissal of employees for the contravention of a ‘lesser’ or subordinate’ rule introduced to bolster a policy aimed at more serious misconduct.