Handling sexual harrassment at the workplace can be tricky business. At stake is not just the morale and the productivity of employees, but also the very reputation and growth of the company. Here are some things you should consider as an employer.
- Assess the Complaint: Insist on a written complaint. Where the aggrieved woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her physical or mental incapacity or death or otherwise, her legal heir or any person on her behalf may make the complaint.
- Reconciliation: If there is a miscommunication or the matter is of trivial nature, the mater should first be tried to be resolved with reconciliation.
- Form an Internal Committee as soon as you can: Assess the date of incident and in case of a series of incidents, within a period of three months from the date of last incident. During the pendency of an inquiry, on a written request made by the aggrieved woman, the Internal Committee may recommend to the employer to –
(a) transfer the aggrieved woman or the respondent to any other workplace; or
(b) grant leave to the aggrieved woman up to a period of three months: or
(c) grant such other relief to the aggrieved woman as may be prescribed.
(d) the leave granted to the aggrieved woman under this section shall be in addition to the leave she would be otherwise entitled.
These recommendations shall be implemented by you as an employer.
- Assess the defense of the accused person, statement of witness, camera recordings, call records if relevant. It must be ascertained whether or not the allegations are made to settle personal grudges.
- If Respondent is found Guilty: Take action in accordance with the provisions of the service rules applicable. Where no such rules have been made, salary shall be deducted as appropriate to be paid to aggrieved or her legal heirs within 60 days. Such misconduct can also be considered a violation of service norms of company/workplace.
- Punishment for false or malicious complaint and false evidenceWhere the Internal Committee arrives at a conclusion that the allegation against the respondent is malicious, the aggrieved woman or any other person making the complaint has made the complaint knowing it to be false or the aggrieved woman or any other person
making the complaint has produced any forged or misleading document, it may
recommend to the employer or the District Officer, as the case may be, to take
action against the woman or the person who has made the complaint.
- An additional complaint can also me made Under section 354/376 IPC and all above proceedings shall not made public.
(Please note that even though I have mentioned the aggrieved party as woman, it has been done so for the purpose of simplicity. The aggrieved party can be a male as well.)