The corporate world claims to be the most sophisticated place to work where maintaining work ethics is the top priority. Imagine feeling threatened by sexual harassment at a place you thought is the safest? Can a workplace actually be unsafe?
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is the unwelcomed requests for sexual favours which is against ethical human behaviour. It includes things like staring at someone, turning work discussions to sexual topics and even unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, and questioning.
You can be sexually harassed verbally and non-verbally. Sometimes, a little teasing seems normal and harmless. However, you need to know the difference between casual humour and an inappropriate comment.
Confront the Person
If you think you can solve the problem by speaking to the person directly – give that a shot. This depends on your rapport with the person and the level of harassment. If there is a mutual understanding between you and the employee – you can solve the matter easily through confrontation. However, in most cases confrontation may not be the best option.
Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) – is a policy enforced by The Supreme Court of India for safeguarding women at the workplace. The Supreme Court of India, in 1997, in the Vishaka Judgment, for the first time, acknowledged sexual harassment at the workplace as a human rights violation. The Supreme Court relied on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Discrimination Against Women. In its judgment, the Supreme Court outlined the Guidelines making it mandatory for employers to provide sympathetic and non-retributive mechanisms to enforce the right to gender equality of working women.
Furthermore, the employer has to form a quorum which addresses sexual harassment issues in the workplace. The quorum consists of three members to be present out of which two must be women. The quorum includes a presiding officer and a Member from the NGO.
Any employee who feels sexually harassed can lodge a complaint of the alleged incident to this quorum within a period of three months from when the incident took place. Likewise, the quorum will keep the details confidential and start the investigation process.
Document Events and Gather Evidence
If the event has taken place outside the corporate premises, you can still report for sexual harassment. However, remember you have to gather sufficient evidence to support your complaint. Furthermore, stay one step ahead and document events to present before the quorum. The stronger the evidence, the better hold you’ve got to gain justice.
If the internal committee cannot resolve the complaint – you can seek legal guidance and get the person fired or seek monetary damages. Therefore, make sure to seek legal representation from an attorney who handles sexual harassment cases.
Get another Job
Beyond a point, if the work environment continues to threaten you - that's your clue. Quit the job. Besides that, there are workplaces that cater to women safety and make it their priority. Know when to cut your losses, and move onto better things. A safe work environment has a direct effect on the productivity of an employee.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King, JR.