Sunday, November 24, 2013

Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace....on the backdrop of Tehelka case....

Tarun Tejpal and his Tehelka is always in a news, however this time, they are in news for all wrong reasons. This is the case of workplace harassment and not only the harassment, but sexual harassment. It is also the case of intimidation and the example of how the women are unsafe in media. This is also the case of power and abuse of power where women are soft targets. This is also the example of how media companies who is the strong pillar of the democracy manipulate the law for their own benefits. The Managing Editor of Tehelka has tried to save the skin of Tejpal by not reporting this case properly. She was also unable to give the justice to the victim.

Recently the new Law (Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013) has been enacted with the objective of providing protection to women against sexual harassment at the workplace and for the prevention and redressal Sexual harassment is considered as a violation of the fundamental right of a woman to equality as guaranteed under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India ("Constitution") and her right to life and to live with dignity as per Article 21 of the Constitution. It is also considered as a violation of a right to practice or to carry out any occupation, trade or business under Article 19(1) (g) of the Constitution, which includes a right to a safe environment free from harassment.

Surprisingly the internal aniti-sexual harassment committee (internal complaint committee) was also not established in the organization to address the issue. There are so many companies which failed to constitute such committee in their organization. This also shows the attitude of the employer towards women issues.

Let’s look what this Law is for?

What constitutes sexual harassment at workplace?
  • Following are main factors which constitutes sexual harassment,
  • Circumstances of promise (implied or explicit) of preferential treatment in employment;
  • Threat of detrimental treatment in employment;
  • Threat about employment (present or future);
  • Creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment, or interference With work for the above;
  • Humiliating treatment that may affect the lady employee's health or safety
  • Unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication) contact and advances,
  • Demand or request for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography,
  • Any other unwelcome physical verbal or non

In above case somebody may defend that the incident happened in the hotel and it is not the workplace harassment, however as per the Law “workplace” includes any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment including transportation provided by the employer for undertaking such journey. Therefore as per this definition eve employer such as office of clients, taxis, hotels etc… become a workplace. Therefore, during an official tour the place of stay (i.e. hotel), travel mode (i.e. taxi) and office of customers / clients are all included as workplace and the employer is liable if any incident happens with the woman employee.

Employer obligation is provide the safe and harassment free working place to the employee.  This also includes to protect the employee from the accused. Forming the internal complaint committee and  informing the issues to legal authorities is also on the employer.  

There are lot many cases, perhaps most of the cases are kept under the carpet. Most of the times, such cases are not reported. It the easy way to victim to change the job or keep silence, instead of taking it to the proper forum due to the insensitivity of authorities. 

Companies should come forward to protect women employees and provide them the safe workplace. At least now they can implement the new enacted Law. Labour Office should enforce the implementation of the Law in all companies.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We just had to have a harassment training at my work. I think it is good to have because some people need a reminder. When you work with people for a while it is easy to get comfortable with them. This helps let you know where you stand.

Alena |

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