In the last few days, sexual harassment at the workplace has been under the scanner because of the #MeToo movement. Sexual harassment is one of the most underreported offences, which is why there was a need for a movement like #MeToo to act as an eye opener.
While women have been exposing their assaulters on social media platforms, it is important for you to know certain rights that you have at your workplace.
There are certain basic points about the Sexual Harassment (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (‘the Act’) that all of us should be aware of so that we know what needs to be done if we face harassment:
1. Women working full time, part time or as an intern- are protected under this act. However, in order for the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to be formed, there have to be at least 10 employees in the company or a branch of the company, otherwise the matter can be taken to the local committee of your area.
2. You also need to understand what sexual harassment is. Anything which appears to be sexual, unpleasant and inappropriate, can be termed as sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment at the workplace can include any of the following situations:
-Physical contact or advances
-Demanding or requesting sexual favours
-Making sexually coloured remarks
-Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
Along with the above, any of following instances can also amount to sexual harassment:
(i) the implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in your employment; or
(ii) implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in your employment; or
(iii) implied or explicit threat about your present or future employment status; or
(iv) interference with your work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for you; or
(v) humiliating treatment likely to affect your health or safety.
3. If you feel you have been sexually assaulted, you can complain, in writing, to the Internal Committee. If there is no internal committee, then you complain to the local committee in your area.
The complaint can be filed within three months after the offence was committed. In case you have not been able to lodge the complaint, the ICC and the local committee can extend the time period for another three months.
4. While the inquiry is taking place, it is likely that you might not want to work with the person/persons you have accused. In such instances, you can claim relief under Section 12 of the Act. By writing to the committee you can ask them to direct your employer to:
(a) seek yours or the respondent’s transfer to any other branch; or
(b) grant you leave up to a period of three months; or
(c) grant such other relief to you as may be prescribed under the Act.
One of the main ways in which sexual harassment can be fought is by spreading awareness about the matter and informing people about what they can do when facing such situations. It can save a lot of trauma and pain if we help spread the message.
First Published: Oct 13, 2018 14:26 IST