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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Sexual harassment: Fall from grace of some top executives

Sexual harassment charges on senior executives have been plenty in the past, most of which has resulted in ousters.

business Updated: Feb 28, 2017 18:29 IST
Sunny Sen
Sunny Sen
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Amit Singhal in Menlo Park, California September 26, 2013.
Amit Singhal in Menlo Park, California September 26, 2013. (Reuters)

The Spiderman phrase, “with great power comes great responsibilities,” attributed to Uncle Ben, is widely quoted but its not easy to keep away from the vices that comes along with the power -- and it has nothing to do with education and upbringing.

One such incident is of Amit Singhal, an IITian, senior vice president of engineering at Uber Technologies has been asked to resign following non-disclosure of sexual harassment charges from his Google days.

Singhal, who also recently joined Paytm’s board, according to a former female engineer alleged to have faced unwanted sexual advances from Singhal, and complained that Uber’s human resource department had not taken any action.

Singhal’s case is not the only one -- in the past many such cases have been widely reported.

Former media personality, Tarun Tejpal, editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine was accused of sexual harassment amounting to rape in an elevator, by a junior colleague during an offsite in Goa. The incident was widely reported and the case is being heart at the Goa court.

And, there are repeat offenders. Phaneesh Murthy, ex-CEO of iGate, was charged twice. Once at Infosys, in 2002, when his executive secretary Reka Maximovitch filed a law suit, alleging sexual harassment. Another person, Jennifer Griffith has pressed similar charges. Infosys did an out-of-court settlement for $3 million, and ousted Murthy.

In 2013, when Murthy was heading iGate, Araceli Roiz, an employee filed sexual harassment charges. Investigation by iGate revealed that Murthy had violated the employee relationship policy, and was finally sacked.

RK Pachauri, vice chairman of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), was accused of harassing his colleague, which also grabbed abundant social media attention. Pachauri stepped down after the allegation in 2015, only to return in July. The chief, was later promoted to the position of vice chairman.

David Davidar, publishing professional with Rupa Publications, was sacked from Penguin Canada in 2010, after complaints from colleague Lisa Rundle. She alleged that Davidar harassed her for three years.

Sexual harassment charges are not limited to corporate houses or CEOs and managers. IAS officer Rupan Deol Bajaj accused former Punjab director general of police, KPS Gill, touched her inappropriately at a party. After a court trial Gill was convicted in 1996, but he did not serve jail term.

Dance icon and choreographer Shiamak Davar was charged on similar grounds by two of his Vancouver-based male students. The accusation was that Davar tried to control them, and groom them into sexual submission.

These cases are few, but prominent. There would be many more those never got reported.

First Published: Feb 28, 2017 17:56 IST