Organisations should draw dos and don’ts for male employees: Bombay HC
The bench however, also cautioned that the latest, sterner Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013, must not be used by women to “settle scores.”mumbai Updated: Oct 04, 2016 14:49 IST
In an order against sexual harassment at workplace, the Bombay high court on Tuesday said that the times had “changed” and instances of misconduct against women must no more be treated “casually.” It added that perhaps “it was time that all organisations drew up a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ for male employees” over their conduct towards their women colleagues.
A bench led by Justice VM Kanade referred to a US supreme court judgment and cited that “sexual conduct cannot be viewed in a vacuum,” and that employers and organisations must identify the “underlying threat of violence,” in such conduct against women.
Justice Kanade also said that organisations must treat all complaints of sexual harassment “seriously and without bias,” and that besides “explaining penal consequences of sexual harassment, it was also necessary to provide safeguards and assistance to women employees.”
“About a decade or so ago, such behaviour would be ignored and termed as work culture. It was even said that men had said or done things inadvertently, but all organisations must change with the changing times. Any misconduct against women employees must be dealt with most sternly,” the bench stated. “This is important considering that the number of working women in the country has increased. They occupy significant posts across sectors and contribute to the country’s economy,” it said.
The bench however, also cautioned that the latest, sterner Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013, must not be used by women to “settle scores.”
The bench was hearing a plea filed by a Mulund resident who had approached the court after the internal committee at her workplace ruled that while the incidents that she had reported against her superior did show that she had been ‘inconvenienced,’ and ‘harassed,’ the same did not amount to ‘sexual harassment.’
The man though, was penalised, demoted, and asked to take a transfer by the company for his conduct that it ruled was “unbecoming.”
While the petitioner had also sought a harsher punishment, the court denied the same saying that the punishment did not seem inadequate. The bench also observed that it needn’t interfere with the committee’s decision merely because “two different views were possible” in the case.