Labour Law & Hr Consultant
Manager, Operations
Executive Human Resource At Emcure Pharmaceuticals
Management Consulting, Management Development,
Learning & Teaching Fellow (retired)
Deputy Manager - Hr
+4 Others

Hi All, Was interested in knowing if one could have an explicit policy for 'no-lady-employees' at a company. Would that be legal? Reg,
8th February 2014 From United States, Daphne
What is the reason for " No lady employee "? I am curious to know. I don’t think this is legal in any part of the world. I will leave this to an expert to comment.
8th February 2014 From India, Bangalore

In my view no question of legality is involved in such an exclusion.It is the prerogative of the employer of a private enterprise to hire employees of his choice; but upon employed, there should not be any gender-based bias.At the same time I would support the question raised by Shangeet.Now-a-days it is ubiquitous to find lady-employees right from retail vending out-lets to police and defence services.Even multi national corporations, banks, super health care enterprises have lady C.E.Os who are not only succesful in crossing the glass-ceiling but also reshaping the companies.When ladies are employed along with men, there may arise some problems but they are small in numbers and can be prevented or set-right effectively. In business promos, lady-models are used along with newly launched products some of which have no connection with ladies; in sports and game events ladies are employed as cheer-leaders. Needless to say that these are from a male-perception and a kind of subtle sexual exploitation of the fair-sex.Therefore, my personal view is such an explicit no lady-employees policy adopted by an employer, though may not be illegal, is indicative of either male-chauvinism or managerial fear psychosis and hence undesirable.
9th February 2014 From India, Salem
Dear In one word "NO" U can not regularize this in terms of written documents. the document and contents shall stand for NULL & VOID.
10th February 2014 From India
Adding to others, No to lady employees will falls under the category of discrimination. If you refer the clause given by International labour organisation, it says "No person shall be subject to any discrimination in employment, including hiring, salary, benefits, advancement, discipline, termination or retirement, on the basis of gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, nationality, political opinion, or social or ethnic origin". So if you put in a policy like you mentioned will result in unwanted complication. if you don hire an female is something different because of the nature of job but avoiding is not fair. Hope you will understand the sequence.
10th February 2014
Thanks for the answers.
I have seen many organizations not employing women, despite being reasonably large ones. With the changing trends in the legislation, there have been many instances reported at the workplace where the employer is normally the one to bear the brunt of malafied litigation, especially those where the lady is intelligent enough to bend the law in her favour. Not all are incorrect, but I recall a famous politician stating that he would rather go without a female employee than have one and invite trouble! Managerial fear-psychosis or otherwise, the fact remains that such litigations do cost organizations a lot of time and money - both avoidable. That they come out of it ultimately, is possibly the lesser cause of worry.
Hence, the question...
10th February 2014 From United States, Daphne
I think this would be highly discriminatory and am sure there would be some law somewhere proscribing such a practice (a simple Google search too may help in finding out the exact law) - otherwise we would start having private organizations exclusive to certain communities, castes, religions, regions - discrimination can take several forms. Imagine how horrible it would be to have companies which recruit "no Marathis", "no UPites", "no Hindus", "no Muslims", "no Brahmins" and so on.
There could be certain hazardous industries which may have been legally barred for women but apart from that, excluding any group of people based on gender, caste, region, religion etc would be illegal.
Citing risk of harassment litigation as a reason to discriminate against women candidates is horrible and despicable, whoever does it. It would be better to conduct a few workshops telling everyone about what constitutes harassment and guiding them about what not to do.
11th February 2014 From India, Delhi
Bodhisutra, please state the law...
Your views are similar to mine. But its a legal clarification...
In any case, please don't underestimate the cost of legal lawsuits... One thing is in knowing what is right... The other is seeking justice from a system. I hope you understand the difference.
12th February 2014 From United States, Daphne
@Ngurjar: Well, am indeed at a loss to understand how women in workplace = Increased cost of "legal" lawsuits.
Funny that we talk of excluding women from workforce and seeking justice for ourselves in the same vein.
Ohh, and about costs, I think the cost of excluding 50% of the population from the workforce would be much higher than that of a couple of awareness workshops which will be enough to prevent most of the normal hot blooded men from becoming harassers!
My 2 cents.
12th February 2014 From India, Delhi
And, as for the law, pls check:
The Equal Remuneration Act (ERA), 1976 expressly prohibits discrimination in employment against women. Quoting from the above, "Taking up the recruitment process, section 5 of the ERA prohibits the employer from devising a hiring process that puts women at a disadvantage on account of their gender"
12th February 2014 From India, Delhi
Dear Mr Gurjar,

The Constitution of India prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

This is guaranteed as a Fundamental Right to the Citizens of India. Article 14 and Article 15 of the Constitution specifically address this.

Article 14 of the Constitution of India states "14. The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India."

Article 15 (1) of the Constitution of India states "15. (1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them."

Further the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution elaborate further in Article 39, which states "The State shall, in particular, direct its policy

towards securing - (a) that the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood; .........."

You cannot have an explicitly stated policy which negatively discriminates against women being recruited into an organisation.


Raju Bhatnagar
12th February 2014 From India, Bangalore
Raju, That is a right conferred by the state. Not a private agency. Please recheck the same. Reg,
12th February 2014 From United States, Daphne
I fully agree with you.
However, your response indicates that you aren't understanding the question correctly. You are talking of ERA which applies only if you have male and female employees. We are talking about not having any employees AS A POLICY. And not, AS A PRACTICE...
There are many companies that don't employ women AS A PRACTICE. So, the question is slightly different.
As for the cost of lawsuits, I think you need to really research the cost of that before you comment.
12th February 2014 From United States, Daphne
Dear Mr Gurjar,
I am not sure I understand your comment about this being a right conferred by the State and not by a Private agency.
The Constitution applies to both State and Private agencies. It is, in fact a right that is conferred on a citizen.
Maybe if you elaborate on the response you have posted I could offer a more specific response.
Raju Bhatnagar
12th February 2014 From India, Bangalore
Whether policy or practice or any other guise - you cannot make any discrimination against women during recruitment- irrespective of the existing gender mix (or lack of it) of your existing workforce or the color of walls in your office.

Reproducing Section 5 (Note that it does not exclude any policy, practice, gender mix or whatever we can dream of):

"5. No discrimination to be made while recruiting men and women workers. -- On and from the commencement of this Act, no employer shall, while making recruitment for the same work or work of a similar nature, 2 [or in any condition of service subsequent to recruitment such as promotions, training or transfer], make any discrimination against women except where the employment of women in such work is prohibited or restricted by or under any law for the time being in force:

Provided that the provisions of this section shall not affect any priority or reservation for scheduled castes or scheduled tribes, ex-servicemen, retrenched employees of any other class or category of persons in the matter of recruitment to the posts in an establishment or employment."

Source: <link fixed>

And let us not get into what you or I should research before posting a comment. Let us leave that to admins/mods.
13th February 2014 From India, Delhi
@Rajubhatnagar Constitution Art 14 and 15 are about discrimination by "State" - it means government can't discriminate. It does not say anything about whether private entities can or cannot discriminate.
13th February 2014 From India, Delhi
We are in 21st century...and thoughts on women employment seems to be medieval period....same like sati practice...if widow lives, there will be social the practice of sati....
13th February 2014 From India, Bhiwani
Dear all,

I am not a HR person or an expert on the laws in India (As I am based in the UK for the past 4 decades). I am rather surprised that such a question was raised without giving sufficient background and people are airing their views without asking for a specific scenario.

In the UK, discrimination based on sex, among other things, is illegal. I searched the web and have given a couple of links.

Men only: Bristol recruitment agency in trouble for sexual discrimination | Bristol Post <link updated to site home> ( Search On Cite | Search On Google ) <link fixed>

India also is a signatory to Human Rights Convensions and I presume it also will legislate specific laws if it has not done so. I read an interesting case at Arati Durgaram Gavandi vs Mrs.Shakuntala A. Mudbidri For ... on 6 October, 2008 that throws light on Sexual Discrimination at the workplace. We Indians are meek when it comes to using the law to establish our rights, which is slowly changing for the good.

Please forgive me, if I have touched on anyone's sensitive nerves.
13th February 2014 From United Kingdom
Dear friends,

I am afraid whether the discussion tends to fall by the way-side on account of the arguments and counter-arguments being exchanged by the Questioner and other learned members having legal perspective on the question and at times among the same set of people with legal perspective themselves. To Bodhisutra whose argument firmly rests on the provisions of the Equal Remuneration Act,1976 the argument of RajuBhatnagar stemming up from the Constitution of India is unteneble and hence unacceptable. The object of the ER Act1976 as stated in its preamble is to provide for the PAYMENT OF EQUAL REMUNERATION to men and women and for the prevention of discrimination on the ground of sex against women in the matter of employment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.Though Bodhisurta's argument based on Sec.5 of the Act is correct and appreciable, unfortunately no notification by the Central Govt. so far of the establishments or employments in which the extent of employment of women can be recommended by the Advisory Committee u/s 6(1). Regarding Bhatnagar's argument based on the Constitutional provisions, it is a known position that no writ would lie against a private person not charged with any public duty. Therefore, the correct approach to the question which appears to me would be based on social norms. The under-tone of the question is whether such an explicit policy of "No- Lady employees - for the organization" would be generally acceptable.When Walt Whitman wrote a poem about' love '( sorry to have forgotten the title), the line first penned by him was " We, man and woman, let us love one another or die ". On a deeper contemplation of the actual meaning he wanted to convey, he later modified the line as - " We man and woman, let us love one another AND die ". Hence I reiterate my earlier point that such a policy is totally undesireable even in the absence of legal restrictions.
13th February 2014 From India, Salem
No sensitive nerves touched Simhan... It was just a legal clarification and Umakanthan has given the clarification.
Thanks a lot.
I am not a supporter of this myself, but as a management consultant, I need to also understand if my understanding of the law is correct. Hence, the question.
13th February 2014 From United States, Daphne
@Umakanthan53 Appreciate your reply sir.
The central question however, still remains - is it legally allowed or not?
Constitution argument doesn't hold.
The question is, if I am a woman and told that I can't apply for a job because of my gender or am not recruited for being a woman - can I sue the company?
My view is that (pls correct me if I am wrong) despite the preamble only saying, "Equal remuneration" and despite no notification as you say, Article 5 of the ERA clearly makes it illegal to discriminate against women in recruitment and the offending company can be sued.
Pls clarify if this is the correct interpretation - your insights would be very valuable because of your having been the Labour Commissioner.
13th February 2014 From India, Delhi
My dear Bodhisutra,

I realy appreciate your argument. Essentially, Labour Jurisprudence is an off-shoot of Civil Jurisprudence.So to determine the degree of compliance or contravention of a particular aspect or provision of any Labour Law would be dependent on the explicit subject-matter that is made enforceable by the follow-up provisions.Eventhough incidental to the main object of securing equal pay for equal work irrespective of sex, the determination of the extent of employment in any establishment i.e., the ratio of women employees is not a negligible one and as such I do agree with you that the pre-employment process of recruitment of women employees is well within the scope of the E.R Act,1976.But, my point is that you cannot resort to the legal remedies provided in the Statute in the absence of the determination of the ratio of recruitment.You can easily find some of the amended provisions in the I.D Act,1947 have not been given effect to so far. The reasons are obvious.sThat's why keeping the legal aspect aside, I gave an answer that revolves on the fulcrum of social norms.
15th February 2014 From India, Salem
Govt. is making laws to protect innocent female employees who often fall pray to evils in the society but other side is that not all lady employees are innocent some may try to use law for their personal benefit. the laws made are easy to bend.

I herd one story from my friend that, once a 24-26 year old boy was traveling in city bus. he was standing. a lady was standing right behind him. suddenly lady started abusing the boy and said that he was touching her with sexual interest. the boy was really scared due to the scene made by the woman. the women dragged him outside the bus and said she is taking him to police. once the bus went she demanded the boy to give money and his valuable belongings to her.

the woman took all cash the boy had, his gold chain, his wrist watch and fled. the boy was scared, he had no courage to go to police due to the current laws in force.

I am not in favor of social discrimination but; employer should check character of the woman before taking her on board, especially at the time of personal interview and background checking.
18th February 2014 From India, Mumbai
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