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Dear All,

With the current global economic condition more and more women are entering the workforce. The World over has started framing policies to protect the sexual harassesment in Workplace.

Given below is an article on Sexual Harassment from US

Current Position in US

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace is one of the most complicated areas of employment law. It is also one of the areas that has recently received the most press.

Below is a basic guide to sexual harassment in the workplace. Please note that sexual harassment in the workplace often goes hand-in-hand with other illegal acts, like gender discrimination. If you have a problem with sexual harassment in the workplace, you should think about what else might be going on as well.

The Guide Below Is for California & Federal Law.

The principles described here apply to both. However, there are some differences that could make a difference to individual cases. It should also be noted that the damages for sexual harassment in the workplace cases differ greatly between California and Federal law. See the damages section for a more detailed explanation.

Two Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace, "quid-pro-quo" and "hostile environment"

The Hostile Environment will be explained in a separate section, although where there's one, there's often the other.

Quid-Pro-Quo Harassment

"Quid-pro-quo" is Latin for "this for that." It is a trade. When the trade is on the basis of sex, it is illegal.

This is the when the employer makes sex a prerequisite to getting something in the workplace. For example: " sleep with me and you'll get the job." That's illegal. This type of sexual harassment in the workplace is the "casting couch" cliché.

Quid-pro-quo can also include negatives. For example, "sleep with me or you're fired" is also illegal.

Who can sue?

Obviously, the woman who is fired because she wouldn't sleep with the boss can sue. But so can a woman who the boss didn't even want to sleep with.

Take for example a situation where the boss asks one of his assistants to sleep with him in exchange for a promotion. She does it and gets the promotion. Under the law, she has a claim, because her agreeing to his sexual demands was a condition of the promotion. She also has a claim if she refused and didn't get the promotion.

Now, if she was just having an affair with him because she wanted to, there is no claim.

What about the other assistants? Do they have a case because the other assistant got a promotion because she was sleeping with the boss, and they did not? Probably not. In California and in most states, there is no sexual harassment in the workplace or discrimination in the workplace claim because a lover got special treatment. However, if the boss made sexual demands which they refused, and that's why they didn't get the promotion or other benefits, they have a claim.

Consent & Offensive Conduct

What about the person who accepts the offer of advancement in exchange for sex. Can she sue? She can certainly sue - she either deserved the promotion or didn't deserve it; she shouldn't have been put in the position of considering whether or not to sell her body to get it. The problem is the idea of "consent".

Sexual harassment in the workplace must be unwelcome. If she was happy with the trade-off, she has a difficult case.

First, the conduct must be "offensive". If two employees have a good time exchanging sexual jokes, it would not be sexual harassment in the workplace.

If one employee kept telling another employee sexual jokes that the second employee found offensive, it would be sexual harassment in the workplace. If two employees dated and engaged in consensual sex, this would not be sexual harassment. If one of the two then wanted to terminate the relationship, and the other used the unequal relative terms and conditions of employment of the work place to further the relationship, this would be sexual harassment in the workplace.

Jokes, pictures, touching, leering, unwanted requests for a date have all been found by courts to be sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment in the workplace can be between people of the same sex. Sexual harassment in the workplace can be a woman harassing a man.

Who can sue?

Anyone who is offended by a sexually harassing environment may theoretically sue. However, that employee's offense must be reasonable. An extremely sensitive person might not be able to maintain a claim, because her feelings of having been offended were not reasonable.

The reasonableness is evaluated by a standard that is the same as a person in the victim's circumstances. For example, what a reasonable woman might think is a hostile environment is not necessarily the same as what a man might think is a hostile environment. If it's a woman who was harassed, it's the woman's point of view that counts.

Damages In Sexual Harassment In The Workplace Cases

Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace can recover for their lost wages, future lost wages, emotional distress, punitive damages, and attorneys fees.

In India, fortunately or unfortunately many women has been misusing this Bill as also other Women Rights protection Bills to further their own agenda.

I have raised this topic with the veiw that most Companies in India have drafted a Policy against Sexual Harassment keeping women in mind and have always put more stress on the term Sexual.

We as HR professionals should draft the policy in such a way as to protect all employees iresspective of caste,creed,race, religion and gender. As rightly said by the protagonist in the film "Indecent Proposal", "sexual harassment has nothing to do with sex but who has the power"

I am asking for opinions,comments and inputs for all members in this regard, to review the situation in your Organisation and to stop reverse discrimination. It is this bais we should all look forward because in my last organisation I have seen one employee lose his job as he was framed by his boss a lady for not pursuing her line of dishonest action.

Your feedback will be highly appreciated.



From India, Thane
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Consultant, Writer And Trainer
Human Resource And Industrial Relations
Kamadana Pradeep
Hr Professional
Human Resources Director
Hr Consultant
Hr Professional
+1 Other


Dear All,

To suppoert my view that sexual harassment in based on women only please click the following link:

<link no longer exists - removed>

The text given below:


As more and more women are going out to work, they face an increasing risk of being subjected to some sort of sexual harassment. This article will shed some light on what exactly sexual harassment means and what recourses does a victim have?

Sexual harassment at the workplace is not a new thing. Sixty per cent of working women have faced sexual harassment at some point of time in their working lives. For every woman who raises an outcry, there are hundreds of others who suffer in silence, quit their jobs or get transfers.

For years, sexual harassment was considered an inescapable part of a working woman's life. Now awareness is slowly rising that no woman should meekly accept sexual harassment as part of her lot.

What is sexual harassment?

What is the workplace?

Some of the well-known cases?

What are the guidelines that govern sexual harassment at the workplace?

How have the guidelines come about?

What is the employer's responsibility?

What can women do?

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is described as harassment in subtle ways, which may include sexual innuendoes, inappropriate sexual gestures and propositions for dates or sexual favours. In more blatant forms, such harassment may include leering, pinching, grabbing, hugging, patting, brushing against and touching.

The Supreme Court's guidelines describe physical contact or advances; demand or request for sexual favours; sexually coloured remarks and showing pornography as offensive conduct.

Sexual harassment becomes even more serious when the granting of sexual favours is made a term or condition of the individual's employment, when it interferes with the individual's work performance or it creates an intimidating or hostile work environment. The offensive conduct could be exhibited by a superior, a colleague, a subordinate or a client.


What is the workplace?

The workplace is any area where the employee is required to represent, carry out, perform or implement any duties, obligations or services required. By this token, a home would be a workplace for a domestic maid. For a person engaged in a field job, the area that she covers in the course of her work represents her workplace.


Some of the well-known cases

Sexual harassment at the workplace, as an issue, captured the collective consciousness of working women, following the Shehnaz Mudbhatkal case. This gutsy woman worked as a hostess for Saudi Arabian airlines. Her services with Saudi Arabian airlines were terminated because she refused to surrender to the sexual demands made by her superior. But Shehnaz would not give in. Filing suit, she fought for 11 years. In 1997, she was awarded full wages and continuity of services with effect from 1985. Sadly, the airlines appealed to Bombay High Court, which granted a stay.

However, this is not the only case of its kind. In 1994, Doordarshan (Hyderabad) producer Sailaja Suman took director P L Chawla to court on charges of defamation, criminal intimidation and trying to outrage her modesty. She filed two separate cases in the metropolitan magistrate's court. Unfortunately, Suman was transferred to Lucknow.

In another case, Nutan Sharma, a steno in the Union Ministry of Railways, was transferred, following her complaint that R P Sharma, secretary to the Chief Operating Manager, molested her.

Alisha Chinai's suit against music composer Anu Malik, demanding Rs. 26,60,000 as damages for sexual harassment, met with a similar fate. Malik filed a Rs. 2 crore defamation suit.

But the most well-known instance of a sexually harassed woman taking the help of the law to teach the harasser a lesson is that of Rupan Deol Bajaj. Bajaj was slapped on the bottom by the then DGP of Punjab, K P S Gill. Accusing him of indecent behaviour, Bajaj fought an 8-year legal battle. The hard work paid off. Gill was convicted and sentenced to three months RI.


What are the guidelines that govern sexual harassment at the workplace?

Sexual harassment results in the violation of the fundamental right to "gender equality" and "the right to life and liberty" besides the right under Article 15 of the Constitution (which deals with the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, creed or sex).

Keeping these rights in mind, the Supreme Court has passed twelve guidelines that have the force of law. They were taken by a division bench as there was "an absence of enacted law to provide for the effective enforcement of the basic human right of gender equality and guarantee against sexual harassment at the workplace." These guidelines are to be observed until legislation is enacted.

Some of these guidelines are:

"It shall be the duty of the employer or other responsible persons in the workplace or other institutions to prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the procedure for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment."

"The employer should initiate action in accordance with the law by making a complaint with the appropriate authority. Victims should have an option to seek their own transfer or that of the perpetrator."

"A complaint mechanism should be created in the organisation. This complaint mechanism should ensure time-bound treatment of complaints. The complaints committee should be headed by a woman and not less than half of its members should be women. In order to prevent the possibility of undue pressure or influence from senior levels, a third party, especially a NGO familiar with sexual harassment, should be involved in the complaints committee."

"The committee must submit an annual report to the government. Employees must be allowed to raise the issue of sexual harassment at various fora."

The guidelines also provide for the initiation of criminal proceedings where sexual harassment is proved beyond doubt.


How did the guidelines come about?

When Bhanwari Devi was gang-raped as a punishment for trying to stop child marriage, women's organisations filed a writ in the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter and take steps to discourage and penalise sexual harassment at the workplace. In the wake of this incident, the Supreme Court issued guidelines. The Bhanwari Devi case revealed the hazards to which a working woman is exposed and the depravity to which sexual harassment can stoop.


What is the employer's responsibility?

The employer is responsible for creating appropriate working conditions for health, work, leisure and hygiene. When the victim complains to the employer, the onus is on the employer to make appropriate investigations. If the employer does not pay heed to the complaint, he can be held responsible. The employer must set up a complaint mechanism in each department of the company. The Supreme Court's guidelines are binding on Central and State governments and the private and public sector. If the employer does not comply, he has to face a writ petition for contempt of court.


What can women do?

As women, we can make it easier for ourselves.

We must shed our mentality of tolerance. We have to stop telling ourselves that this kind of behaviour on the part of men is inevitable and unavoidable.

Express strong resistance the first time it occurs. If you allow the action to take place without expressing your strongest disapproval, the offender will assume that he has your consent.

Don't encourage males to behave unbecomingly with you or try to attract their undue attention. At all times, maintain your own self-respect.

Dress in a manner that befits a work environment.

In case someone behaves with you in a manner that makes you feel uncomfortable, protest loudly and at once. Let others know that such conduct has been meted out to you.

Keep safe distance from the offending party.

Register a First Information Report with the police station.

As more and more women join the workforce, the law must ensure that women are able to enjoy the rights promised to them by the Constitution. We must ensure that they are treated with dignity and assured of gender equality and that they are not discriminated against on account of their sex. Considering that until retirement, we spend a little less than two-thirds of our lives working, we must take pains to ensure that we spend it in a dignified and productive manner.



From India, Thane
Kamadana Pradeep

Hi SC,
Your contribution is Great. Let the women folk react to this.
There is also another angle to it which is emotional harassment which is very dangerous. This kind of harassment is invisible but it creates a lot of impact on individuals. One cannot complain or share about this and this is like slow poisoning. Everything seems be sweet and sound, but emotionally it will take its toll. It cannot be identified and this is in practice against not only women but against all.
So friends, beware of emotional harrassment.

From India, Hyderabad


Contrary to your post sexual harassment can be committed by anyone against anyone. Male to female is the most prevalent there are cases in the US, concerning female to male, as well as same-sex sexual harassment. (I speak from experience. I have been involved in resolving two cases.)

In most cases of "reverse sexual harassment" - female to male - the male is reluctant to report the episode in fear of being ridiculed by peers. (There was a movie several years ago, starring Michael Douglas, the premise of which was sexual harassment by the female.)

None the less, any conduct which disrupts the workplace ("hostile work environment"), or coerces employees for sexual favors for employment related considerations ("quid pro quo") is illegal in the US.

In addition, an employer is responsible for the conduct of employees, visitors and vendors. Depending on circumstances, employers can be liable for the actions of non-employees.

Sexual harassment is about power and control, not gender or employment status.


From United States,
Dr. Jogeshwar mahanta

India still goes by the dogma that man is always the author in sexual acts and a woman can not be. So equali jure in law is impossible. regards
From India, Delhi

Dear members,
We need to discuss this burning issues in different directions.
1) In which sector/industry, max cases??/
2) In which level(managerial, non-managerial, workers), max cases???
3) In which class/society, max cases???
4) who is more resonsible men or women???
5) In which condition, it comes to surface??/ need to be discussed.
6) wat precautionary measure to be adopted???
7) If happened, wat action is required???

From India, Bangalore

Dear Sid,
You are absolutely right. We should all frame a proper and equitable policy to counter this menace.
The theme should be the concept of "who has the power" instead of gender bais and sexual acts.

From India, Thane

Dear All, I havent seen some active female members giving their valuable inputs. Regards, SC
From India, Thane
sonal shree

:idea: Well, there is something to cheer about and that is the fact that people are waking up to the harsh truth of sexual exploitation in workplace and its serious repercussions. If the victim accuses his/her colleague/superior or others of indecent behavior, media knows what to do next. The guilty, no matter how much tries to save face ,comes into bad books of the public and it becomes virtually impossible to him/her to stay pecefully with glaring eyes surrounding him/her. Still lots need to be done to ensure work place safety. Strict rules and regulations and their ACTUAL IMPLEMENTATION is the solution.No matter how powerful the culprit is, warning must be issued and appropriate action taken in the event of such incidents.
From India, Mumbai
sonal shree

Why "let women folk react to this" is a question that must be answered on behalf of all the women. When the victim of sexual harrassment is a woman, she is not harrassed alone but her father, brother, husband too. It's a society constituted by males, females and eunuchs. I don't think that when an issue like sexual harrassment is raised, it should concern only women. It is a social, emotional, psychological and legal issue that must be confronted by one and all irrespective of gender.
From India, Mumbai
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