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However, before terminating their services, you will have to observe the process/ provisions prescribed in the employee conduct & discipline rules, i.e., to issue show cause notice to them, hold domestic enquiry, and if found guilty only then you should resort to the termination of their services.
Mr PS Dhingra has given sound suggestions. You cannot terminate any employee without conducting domestic enquiry. Secondly, for the termination purposes, "misconduct" has to be defined. Supreme court has ruled that any termination that does not fall within the purview of "misconduct" defined in the standing orders of the company is illegal. Therefore, my questions is about having explicit definition of misconduct on "using the same room to change the dress by the persons of two opposite genders at the same time".
You might have prohibited entry of either gender into the dress changing room of other gender. However, transgression of this rule is sufficient ground for termination?
While writing above facts, let me apprise you that I am not taking side of the delinquent employee. My objective was to apprise you on the legal aspects of termination.
Secondly, how is the performance of employee? Are the employees good performers? Can they be counselled and given chance to reform? By using provisions of discipline like sledge-hammer are we crushing also option of reforming employee?
Take a broader view and think twice before you terminate them. Yes, what they have done is wrong but then by terminating employee will you get the same performer? By invoking harsh discipline are we becoming sanctimonious? We live in the same world in which we have "Saans-bahu" soap operas. Most of these soaps have extra-marital affairs as their leitmotif. How can you expect everybody to be free from the influence of the serials?
Indian society is no longer what it used to be. Days of the conservatism have gone. Take the case of live-in relationship. In the last generation it was unthinkable. But now it is there. Presently, in social media a news is making round about a 67 year old politician widower having fallen in love with a woman who is lesser than half of his age. Now both of them will get married once the woman gets the divorce.
On the one side we are the liberals who cry hoarse for the rights of LGBT community and on the other side invoke harshest rule for the deviation. Where workplace romance does not happen? Unfortunately the pair crossed the dividing line. Explore possibility of bringing them back within the line.
Dinesh V Divekar
Frankly, I think YOU OWE it to this Forum to give the FULL details of the situation.
What is the locus standi of the 2 employees--w.r.t. each other AND w.r.t. the Company? I presume they aren't man & wife--else you wouldn't be directing your thought towards the legal way. Are they co-employees planning to get married? Is either/each of them married other wise? Was this a repetitive situation OR the first time it happened? Or any other aspect(s) that is/are different?
Pl note that I am NOT AT ALL considering WHO these employees are--junior or senior. What matters is WHAT happened & in what circumstances.
I do hope that you realize that the Organizational Response WOULD BE DIFFERENT for each of the scenarios above....or at least NEEDS to be different.
Like Dinesh V Divekar mentioned, the world has changed...and so have the Rules & Regulations that govern organizations. I am not sure of the sector your company is in--your response options would depend a lot on this factor. If it's a Manufacturing sector--are you prepared for Union/Association action? If it's IT, then there's a chance that there may be a backlash from at least some of the employees--IF this has been more of an inappropriate rather than illegal behavior. Are you sure you are prepared for such a backlash--IF at all it happens? Suggest DON'T presume that some things may happen OR may not happen.
It's not for nothing that the processes/provisions prescribed in the employee conduct & discipline rules, i.e., to issue show cause notice to them, hold domestic enquiry, etc and calibrate the organizational response based on the Findings, which THEN may also include Termination--like PS Dhingra mentioned. When such Rules are framed, many brains--well-experienced ones at that--would have gone into all possible scenarios before coming-up with the processes to be followed.
Suggest pl give more details of the situation for the members to give the most appropriate & practical suggestions.
If, for whatever reasons, you can't give the details, the only option, I think, you have is to follow the Rules--ad verbatim.
My attention was drawn to this thread by a senior member. The situation mentioned by you is not very common (if not unique).
I agree with the views expressed by our experienced members. As already suggested, please give a sequential narration of the event.
What kind of industry/business is yours? Is it a retail industry?
The dress change room, for which gender is it marked ??
Who entered there first ??
Who among them is the senior in employment ??
Please preserve the evidence.
Secondly, even if such misconduct are not specifically mentioned in your Standing Orders/ Conduct and Discipline Rules, there is nothing to worry, as the misconducts are only illustrative and not exhaustive.
This is a serious matter, and it has the potential to affect everyone concerned, esp. the higher management.
Meanwhile, also go through the Sexual Harassment at workplace Act. There is nothing to prevent anyone from taking recourse to it at a later stage. Being prepared is the best option.
Do give more information on the incident.
The last post by Michael was in 2010 from and he was working for a recruitment firm. I wonder whether he is still working there!!
When people give insufficient information, experts can give general/conditional advice based on assumptions made. Experts have already given suggestions from taking stern action to conducting investigations, and have sought more detailed information, I will await a response from Michael George before making any comments.
Installation of CCTV in Change-Rooms and other places of personal use is not right option. None has right to record such footage and watch on monitor. If any action is started on this incidence, and when female-male employees would come to know that CCTVs are installed and their such personal footage are recorded and watched, how they would feel? what they would think about the management? In my opinion, no prudent lady would like such recording.
On the basis of recorded footage, proving of any misconduct is difficult when mixing of video is available.
Such places of personal use should be earmarked and when complaint is coming, action as suggested by our experts should be taken as per definition of misconduct and procedure of law adopted by the establishment irrespective of valid or invalid relations between the two.
V K Gupta
I think it is better to await Michael George's response to questions raised than making comments based on our perceptions of the situation. For example, I am not sure if a camera is installed within the change room or outside the change room. If it is outside the change room to monitor, who goes in and out and how long they stay there, is it illegal? I would have thought it was necessary if any serious crime were to take place to identify who went in and out.
My view in the present circumstances are as below:
Taking action with reference to appointment orders, conduct rules, standing orders, Sexual Harrassment Act and so on may not solve the problem.
Try to post/ transfer the people to different Units/ offices / branches /centres /cities, if you wan to keep them in service. Else, watch their alround performance, and frame charges in such a way that are appropriate and acceptable and unquestionable and send them out or any one of them out.
Further the appointment order may have clause of one or two month's notice on either side, without giving any specific reasons. Make use of this clause. In case there is no such clause, try to include the same in future orders and also as addendum to what was given. .
This may solve so many issues and misunderstanding that may arise.
The issue has to be handled tactfully and politely.
as is evident from the post; it has been place so that it can view the entrance, and it only records the entry and exit.
It is not placed inside; as is corroborated from the fact given that whatever happened inside the changing room is not known.
2. Why was the footage being viewed of a changing area when by default you stumbled upon your man and woman in the same room 'talking to each other in privacy'. Do you have proof of anything else?
3. What is immoral and who defines it
4. What indecency have they committed
5. Were you not encroaching on their privacy or doing some sort of witch-hunting exercise during / after your work hours?
6. Have you the ground to terminate them
7. Even if you do terminate them do you have the chance to face the tribunal
8. What kind of company do you guys work in, where such Talibanisque dictats are imposed and everyone is under the "FBI" scanner
9. Two adults with or without your knowledge, guidance, counselling, mentoring, approval, appointment, permission, are free to talk, kiss, love each other. Who are you to decide how they should live their lives?
10. I hope you are not in HR
11. The way I see it, it can be best described for you and those with you, as VOYEURISM otherwise why would you do what you did and who authorized it
12. If they are unmarried, throw a party and enjoy life... you get invited to their wedding
13. If they are married individually, keep a contraceptive vending machine in your office as you have already installed a CCTV for post-dressing viewership in an area that is very private
14. Get a new job. You can think better.
Any thing to be decided, the course of action etc. would depend what the footage of the CCTV shows. Based on which a preliminary inquiry may be necessary to bring out what exactly has happened to form a prima facie case in the incident. But at the same time I don't think any Staff rules will have such a provision depicting to deal this kind of specific incident, in the absence it may be difficult to proceed further. Much would depend on the past and present of the employees involved. If you ask me it is necessary to establish first what made them to be together for over 10 min. in the dress room. And Michael did not narrate what the rumours go round in their circle about this incident, probably you may take some clue from this. I agree it's unethical to place CCTV cameras in a dressing room of an estt. but what happens in airports and highly secured environment where frisking is compulsory(sometimes allegedly stripped), no cameras allowed there (though male for male and female for female only are frisking) ?
Where's Michael George--who posted this thread on 2 May & seems to, either forget about it or doesn't have time to respond to the many queries by the members.
I guess, all of us have done enough brainstorming with LOTS of IFs & BUTs.
All I can say is this: Michael George seems to have asked for justifications for what he wanted to do [sort of pre-decided course of action]--and when that isn't forthcoming from this Forum, he seems to have done the vanishing trick thinking WE don't deserve HIS time any further.
Let's focus our time for better threads of those who really NEED & DESERVE suggestions.
Are there separate rooms for male and female separately or all have to use one and the same common room and by mistake both entered the room at that time without knowing someone was there in already and took about 10 minutes to find out this.
Recording such footage will leads to some other issues against your company. A thorough inquiry must take place. Is there any bolt is there are not inside. What is their plea? Just footage will not help to act. However, without inquiry no decision can be take.
Thanks for all your views and comments:
Well to clarify certain questions/clarity what our members may have/want:
1. The industry is into FMCG sector.
2. There are separate change rooms for men and women.
3. Surveillance is placed outside the change room and not inside.
Anyways thanks for the post guys. we had conducted an enquiry procedure and still its on for final decision.
Thanks for all your post.It was highly informative.
First of all you need to discuss with the employees (with all the evidence), no matter how they are performing, because performance is not the parameter for playing policies
If they are guilty, you can terminate them with the immediate effect (in consultation with your and there seniors), so that other employees could not take it for granted.
Hr - mngr
Nothing doing I have gone through all the long mails , we all are trying create our own script . Call both of them and tell them to resign if they dont --- confirm them the same will be display across the Organization . Please display if required , this will give a clear message and will take care of the Present situation -- They will resign at any cost . For Future --- those who are planning / intrested to use the changing room togather shall not even try to think of it .
Wish that you people are on right track. But I'm curious to know the facts & circumstances of this incident. Would be thankful, if possible would you mind sharing the facts for our knowledge & experience, as and when feasible, pl.try to update by continuing the post. I'm equally curious that no innocent should be punished as a result of mistaken & misrepresented circumstances & evidences notwithstanding. Pl.try to abide by truth and truth alone should triumph.
Members in the forum had rightly advised you... you should advice management to hold a internal inquiry on the employees and thereafter if found involved in nondisciplinary activities, they should be served termination notice mentioning the reason and conclusions of the inquiry committee.
It\'s so very important issue, I\'m hearing this more often and I completely agree with you that it should not be ignored,
You\'know, we just started a scientific survey about this issue and the over HR Planing, you can take a part in over the link from my signature
Anyway, Good Luck.