Introduction

Unsurprisingly, sexual harassment of women in the workplace still occurs much too regularly. While it is most commonly seen between men and women, it may happen to anybody at any time. Sexual harassment, particularly in the workplace, can highlight the power struggle between superior and subordinate. It is critical that you understand that you can say no to sexual harassment.

There are no justifications. Power is no justification. Want is not an excuse. Short skirts aren’t an excuse. No equals no. It is your right to say so. Let us walk you through a few measures to take if you find yourself in a sexual harassment situation.

1. Record everything. If you are given promotions or favours, or if you are threatened with losing your job. Keep track of the date, time, harasser, location, and witnesses.

2. Keep your written notes in a secure location, such as a closed briefcase, pocketbook, or home computer. You don’t want someone looking around your workstation for this information.

3. Take screenshots of every email and text message sent to you by the sexual harasser, even if the communications appear to be harmless. Everything may be utilised to demonstrate that the individual is pestering you.

4. You must report the sexual harassment before you may seek justice. Understand your company’s sexual harassment policy and, if applicable, consult with your Human Resources department.

5. Speak with an attorney. An employment discrimination lawyer is someone who knows the legal repercussions of sexual harassment.

6. If you still feel uncomfortable after a while and nothing has changed, you can choose whether to continue in your current work or look for a new one. Allow your boss to push you out of a position, but quit if you no longer want to work for that organisation. 

Nobody should feel obligated to accept unwelcome sexual approaches in order to succeed in their jobs. It is time for strong men and women to respect their employees and guarantee that others do as well. 

Summary

PoSH At Work: If you ever find yourself in a situation at work where you believe you are being sexually harassed, remember that you have the right to refuse. Whatever the circumstance. Regardless of the individual. Whatever you are threatened with.

At the time, it may appear practically difficult to control and overcome. Particularly if the person sexually assaulting you or making you feel uncomfortable is your supervisor. A supervisor might make any variety of threats against an individual at work. For example, suppose the subordinate resist their sexual approaches. In that case, they might threaten the employee with a loss of advancement, lower pay, a terrible assignment of job assignments, or spreading a false story around the office. One of the secrets to effectively conquering this circumstance is not to be intimidated by their might.

We are working hard to transform what is deemed ‘normal’ office culture in many businesses. It is time for employees to gain authority and advocate for themselves. Employees and employers that engage in sexual harassment must face sanctions.

Types Of Workplace Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment has generally been classified into two types as per the Women Harassment Act:

  • Quid pro Quo
  • Hostile work environment

“Quid Pro Quo” literally translates to “this for that.” In the context of sexual harassment, this implies pursuing sexual favours or advances in exchange for job perks such as promises of advancement, greater salary, academic advancements, and so on. This sort of sexual harassment primarily holds a woman hostage since refusing to comply with a request’ might result in punitive action such as dismissal, demotion, warnings, a damaged work record, and tough working circumstances.

“Hostile work environment” is a less obvious but more common kind of sexual harassment. It usually entails working circumstances or behaviour against a female employee that makes it uncomfortable for her to be there. While nothing is offered or refused to the worker in this circumstance, unwanted sexual harassment happens merely because she is a woman. Understanding Sexual Harassment Instances Several polls have found that various unpleasant behaviours by coworkers generate harassment among female employees. Among the most notable are:

  • Derogatory remarks of a sexual or gender character
  • The presence of sexual visual material or pornographic material, such as posters, cartoons, drawings, calendars, pinups, photos, and sexually themed computer applications.
  • Sexually explicit written content, such as notes or emails with sexual remarks
  • Comments concerning a person’s dress, personal behaviour, or body
  • Body patting, rubbing, gripping, or pinching.
  • Unacceptable phone calls
  • Spreading rumours or telling falsehoods about a person’s personal or sexual life
  • Rape or attempted rape, for example.

POSH – Law Against Sexual Harassment

As women, it is critical that we understand certain fundamental aspects of this law in order to feel safe in our workplaces. For our convenience, below is a list (not complete) of what this Posh at Work Act allows for. –

  • The word “sexual harassment” refers to both physical and verbal abuse. The legislation defines it as uninvited acts or behaviours such as physical contact and approaches, a demand or request for sexual favours, making sexually coloured remarks, exhibiting pornography, or, more broadly, any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or nonverbal sexual activity. 
  • This list is incomplete, and whether anything that occurred qualifies as “sexual harassment” will be decided case-by-case. Repeatedly asking for dates, sexist remarks, remarking on your body or looks, giving work perks in exchange for sexual favours, threatening to block your development in the office if you don’t adhere to their requests, and so on are instances of sexual harassment.
  • The Act defines “workplace” as more than just the physical bounds of your office. If you go somewhere on a work-related task, even while in transportation provided by the company, you are in the workplace. This includes professional meetings held at restaurants or cafés, a workplace event held in a social context, and even flying with a coworker on your way to a work trip. 
  • You can be working from home digitally in COVID times. Cases of sexual harassment conducted while at home via zoom or other online media, it is suggested, can be brought under the jurisdiction of the Act.
  • To be covered by the Act, you do not have to be an “employee” in the traditional meaning of the word. The Act applies to you whether you are a contractor, consultant, temp, part-time employee, intern, volunteer, or anything else. The Act also applies to your home help, if you have one, in which case you are the “employer.”
  • If your company has ten or more workers, your employer is required by law to form an “Internal Complaints Committee” with broad authority to investigate and resolve allegations of sexual harassment. If you work in an office with more than ten workers and have not heard of anything connected to sexual harassment prevention, please see a lawyer or your human resources department!
  • Following the filing of a complaint with the Internal Complaints Committee, the following can occur: If proven guilty, the culprit may be requested for a written apology, and additional disciplinary action may be taken, such as a warning, reprimand, withholding of promotion, withholding of pay rise, termination from employment, and so on. In this regard, the Committee has broad authority.

POSH Act 2013 Compliance

 To be a POSH Act 2013 (Women Harassment Act) complaint, an employer must satisfy a number of duties to ensure that working women are not subjected to sexual harassment at work. Here are some steps you may take to guarantee your business is in complete compliance with the POSH act 2013:

Creating a separate body for complaint resolution

  • Every organisation with more than ten employees is required to form an Internal Accusations Committee (ICC) to address and resolve sexual harassment complaints.
  • Each office or division of the business with at least ten workers must have an Internal Complaints Committee. Furthermore, under the law, each business with ten or more employees is compelled to form an ICC, even if no women work there.
  • Compliance with POSH legislation is critical since the law permits other parties, such as contractors, clients, and others, who visit the organization’s facilities to make a complaint of sexual harassment that occurred at the workplace.
  • If a company has fewer than ten employees, it is not required to create an ICC. In this situation, all complaints will be directed to the local complaints committee, which will be established by district authorities in each district in accordance with the Act.
  • Sexual harassment complaints must be addressed to the Local Complaints Committee (LCC) that the district magistrate or district collector may have established at each district level in organisations with less than ten workers.

Spreading awareness of the POSH Act 2013

  • The employer must provide training, seminars, and orientations to its employees to provide an appropriate understanding of the POSH rules and the ICC complaint resolution process.
  • Another key duty for employers is to effectively display signs at the workplace concerning the legal ramifications of sexual harassment, as well as information about the ICC’s composition and members. 

Developing a POSH Policy

  • Every company is required by law to have a POSH policy, also known as an anti-sexual harassment policy, for the prohibition, prevention, and redressal of Sexual Harassment Of Women In the Workplace, as well as to promote gender-sensitive safe spaces and remove underlying factors that contribute to a hostile work environment against women. 
  • A lawyer can help you design a POSH policy for your firm.

Contractual Changes in the Workplace

  • It is not enough to draught a policy that complies with the POSH regulations; an employer is compelled under the anti-sexual harassment legislation to address any occurrences of sexual harassment as misbehaviour under the rules of employment.
  • It is critical to add an explicit phrase in an employment agreement, standing orders, or service standards specifying that Sexual Harassment Of Women at the Workplace would be deemed misbehaviour and the consequences, which might include salary deductions, termination of employment, and so on.

Yearly POSH Compliance Report

  • Each calendar year, the Internal Complaints Committee (if there are more than ten employees) or the Local Complaints Committee (if there are fewer than ten employees) must file an annual report stating the company’s POSH compliance, i.e. the number of cases filed; their disposition and investigations, etc., and submit it to the District officer under the supervision of the employer.
  • In circumstances where an annual report is not needed, the employer is responsible for communicating to the District Officer the total number of harassment complaints submitted in a year.

Consequences Of Noncompliance To Posh Act 2013

Noncompliance with POSH (Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace Act) can result in a monetary penalty of INR 50,000 for an employer. If the employer fails to comply on many occasions, the penalties may be doubled. Noncompliance may also result in the termination of a licence, the withdrawal or non-renewal of business registration by the government or local authority.

  • There have been several incidents when employers have been penalised with monetary fines in excess of Rs.50,000 after female employees filed sexual harassment claims in the workplace. 
  • Employers who fail to comply with POSH may face exemplary damages imposed by the courts. This may also affect the company’s reputation and create a hostile work environment.
  • The inclusion of a statement in the Director’s report indicating the firm has complied with rules pertaining to the creation of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) under POSH legislation has been made mandatory. 
  • The Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014 have been changed to require disclosure of the application of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act (POSH legislation) in every company’s Director’s report.

 

Final Takeaway

Courts have been permitted to decide how businesses handle harassment for far too long. Harassment rates have hardly changed in decades. According to the research we and others have done, we can’t tackle the problem by labelling all males as potential harassers in training sessions or forcing victims to negotiate a complaint system structured to keep the accused from suing. According to the research, it is most beneficial to build training that treats all employees as victims’ allies and provides them with problem-solving tools, as well as to design complaint procedures that offer the typical victim a timely response that does not invite retribution.

Increasing the proportion of female CEOs and supervisors may also assist because women are less likely to respond adversely to training and are more inclined to trust victims who come forward with complaints. This may encourage victims to come forward and increase the likelihood of being satisfied with the complaint procedure. Posh lawyers play a crucial role in complying with the posh act 2013. For Posh training online as well as posh training offline, you can connect us at muds.co.in