The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act and Rules, 2013 (“Law”) mandates every Employer to “provide a safe working environment at the workplace which shall include safety from the persons coming into contact at the workplace”.
For this, it provides that the aggrieved can file a complaint of sexual harassment within the organization itself and seek redressal via the internal mechanism. For the success of this, all organizations (whether public or private) having 10 or more employees (whether permanent, temporary, ad-hoc, consultants, interns or contract workers irrespective of gender) are mandated under Law to comply with certain requirements.
One of the readers reached out to Deepika Bhardwaj, independent journalist, to narrate a 2009/10 incident at his office. He quoted:
It was in 2009 or 2010, I couldn’t remember exactly. I used to work for XXX, a multinational company.
The lady used to work in the technical publication (TP) department. She was the wife of a team lead (who had left the company a few months before). The husband of this lady had joined a new organisation where he was supposed to create a similar kind of Technical document.
This guy had asked her to get the printout of this confidential document. Accordingly this lady gave the print of the complete document which was not supposed to be printed.
The IT department caught her printing. It was in the evening around 6.30, I guess. All the managers had left for the day. Since they were not in a position to make an appropriate decision, they decided to take back the access card of this lady and sent her home.
Next day morning, the IT manager (He), Technical publication manager (He), along with the HR manager (She) together decided that she was trying to steal the confidential document (based on the evidence). Accordingly, they fired this lady.
This lady along with her husband went to the police station on the same day she was sent home (Previous evening), and filed a harassment case (not sure whether it was physical or mental harassment) on the Technical publication manager in particular and HR manager and the company in general.
So when they fired this lady the next morning, it looked like they fired her since she went and filed an FIR. The technical publication manager and HR manager ended up in the police station for a day or two. The IT manager absconded from the scene.
To get out of this situation, the company had to negotiate with this lady for a compensation + clean exit (proper relieving letter) to take back the FIR. Also she finally went and joined her husband’s company.
Please note POSH Act is once again NOT Gender Neutral. This means a male employee has no right to file sexual harassment case on a female colleague or co-worker.
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