harassment:The need for effective legislation
Sexual harassment at the workplace is one
of those subjects rarely discussed in any open forum in India.
But times are changing and with more women entering the workplace,
the issue is gaining importance, says Sruthi Sagar Ananthachari,CBSI
and US law
harassment legislation had its beginning in the US. It is part
of federal anti discrimination legislation covered under Title
VII, Civil Rights Act, 1964, which prohibits discrimination
or segregation based on race, color, national origin, religion,
and gender in all conditions of employment. This was passed
to bring about equality in hiring, transfers, promotions, compensation,
access to training, and other employment-related decisions.
if you are a subsidiary of a US corporation and do not have
a sexual harassment policy, you are sitting on a potential minefield.
I would urge you to have such a policy, as an indiscriminate
act by one of your employees or supervisors could trigger a
VII of the US Civil Rights Act defines the basic rights of employees.
We do not have an equivalent piece of legislation in India. However,
globalisation will soon force all of us in various industries
to come up with internal policies to prohibit sexual harassment
at the workplace.
India, I have personally dealt with several cases of sexual harassment
at the workplace. Generally, women employees do not come forward
and complain about inappropriate behavior at work. In the last
15 years alone, I have had instances in the IT industry where
persons in a supervisory or managerial position had asked for
pro quoharassment: Be it a good project for which you
are being considered or an early promotion opportunity, there
could be a tacit message from the supervisor for a quid pro
quo – this for that. Quid pro quo harassment
occurs when an employee is forced to choose between giving in
to a superior’s sexual demands or forfeiting an economic benefit
such as a pay increase, promotion, or continued employment. A
good case to cite here would be the famous Paula Jones case. Each
one of you may be aware of several instances of quid pro quo at
environmentharassment:Sometimes, sexual misconduct is
so severe and pervasive that it interferes with an individual’s
performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive
work environment. Harassment can be caused by supervisors, co-workers,
or non-employees such as customers. For hostile environment, I
would refer to the Mitsubishi car manufacturing plant in the US,
where women employees were subject to explicit sexual remarks
and acts by male workers at the assembly line.
was an instance in the US where a woman employee complained
that an Indian among a group of software contractors at a particular
site made an explicit remark about her anatomy when she was
passing by and all of them laughed.
had to spend several hours sitting with my attorney to try and
settle the case. I also organised a crash course on what constitutes
sexual harassment for all the employees working at that location.
may not be bad idea to include what constitutes sexual harassment
in your orientation kit prior to deputing an employee for an
hope this will help to bring in awareness on this issue and also
that there will soon be a law in India on this sensitive and serious