We received a complaint letter (Third party complaint) stating that she noticed many times, some group of male employees giving sexual coated comments on female emplyees whoever go for lunch to canteen.
At this juncture, I need clarifications on
1. Is it handled by ICC ?
2. If Yes, According to POSH ACT what are the steps to be adapted for the Enquiry?
With Warm Regards

From India, Villupuram
Dear member,
What is happening at your company is horrible. Any woman, whether employed as regular employee or as casual, temporary, outsourced employee has right to live with dignity. If the salacious comments are passed against any woman employee, then it merits investigation.
Before giving solution to your challenge, please confirm what you mean by "third party complaint".
Now coming to solution. Yes, the matter falls within the purview of POSH and now a days it is not ICC but just IC (Internal Committee). You may call the complainant to your office and tell her to generate material evidence. For this, she may sit reasonably close to the employee and record the conversation. Most of the Android phones have built-in apps to record and Apps can be downloaded also. However, tell the woman employee to check what could be the maximum time duration to which recording can take place. If the comment has sexual undertone, then tell the woman employee to confront passing sexual innuendos. While confronting such employee(s) let her be polite but firm. Let her not lose her emotional control. Let her not reveal that the conversation is getting recorded.
I am telling you to general material evidence in order to strengthen the case. Once she has incontrovertible evidence, let her approach HR once again with the audio clip. Later HR can proceed as per the procedure given in POSH Act.
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

You can just record the audio or audio with video and submit the same as a proof to HR in writing. Make sure that the information is not passed on to anyone.
From India, Hyderabad
Any aggrieved woman can file a complaint of sexual harassment to IC within 3 months of the incident.
The period within which one can file the complaint can also be extended to another period of three months.
Also, where the aggrieved woman is unable to make a complaint due to her physical incapacity, her legal heir, relative or friend, co-worker, an officer of the National Commission for Women or State Women’s Commission may make a complaint to the IC on her behalf, with her permission.
Also, if the woman is suffering from mental incapacity, a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist or the guardian or authority under whose care she is receiving treatment or care, can file a complaint before the IC.
Besides inquiry into the matter by the team of IC. You bring the conspicious place under CC TV survilance. This is time to raise the confidence of the women employee by the management by holding a meeting to raise confidence that management is serious over the matter of harresment as reported.

From India, Mumbai
Dear Mr Prabhat Ranjan Mohanty,
You have outlined the procedure to file a complaint of sexual harassment but many times proving the misconduct becomes difficult for want for impeccable evidence. By the way, this is just a case of sexual innuendos. What about proper rape case itself? Conviction rate in the rape cases in India is just 25%
Our judicial system has a tenet no person should be held guilty unless proved. While the tenet might have raised the moral standing of the judicial system, it has helped the criminals as proving guilty is not that easy in India. Secondly, much depends on forcefulness with which the cases are represented.
Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

The receipt of complaint is the starting point for action in a sexual harassment case. If the complaint names specific individuals action can be initiated now itself, but if it is a general complaint without naming anyone then further evidence as suggested by Dinesh Divekar Sir could be gathered. If the complaint has come from a female employee who feels harassed even if it was not directed against her, it suffices to be a complaint under the Act even if she is not targeted and it is not to be treated as third party complaint requiring further corroboration and can be proceeded by the Complaints Committee. The complaint is to be treated as the charge sheet and the accused employees can be called to explain their acts in the matter. The committee can also consider the need for any interim action like transferring the accused employees to work areas which are not on the way to canteen and this would send a strong message. Thereafter depending on the response of these employees further steps towards adducing evidence in support of the charges sexual harassment can be considered.
From India, Mumbai

The company has to take cognisance of the complaint.
Try to gather evidence about who is doing this comment session about ladies.
Talk to the ladies who go to canteen and ask them whether they noticed/heard of any such innuendoes, comments.
Discreet watch over the area can bring out some facts, based on which enquiry can be done. as laid down for sexual harassment cases.
Right now it is a 3rd party complaint and affected parties are silent or even unaware of the comments being passed.
But no doubt such activities are not good for image of the company and reputation of all people concerned.
Obtain evidence and act.

From India, Pune
Dear Mr. Divekar,
Thanks for shading light upon our systems. Your apprehension in the context is a time judged. What you or I can do in complex judiciary and policing situation? There is no alternative available rather to follow the existing system till something new and better thing is to come. There is absolutely flaw is not with judiciary rather with our social system and orthodox mind-set. Our people rather prefer to bear it than to fight for the cause.
[[ An example is set which is a true happening: Fictitious names are used
Raj, sr Design Engineer, 28 & Rina, 30(widow), House Keeping Staff under contractor. The office set-up remains closed on Saturday other than few as working day, result of which only 15% of total strength is avaible at office blocks and most of them goes to project site.
On one occasion Rina had a fall due to slip in office floor and was rescued by Raj and sent to medical for treatment as injury on head was serious. Rina remained in hospital for two weeks. After recovery from the injury Rima resumed her duty. After that incident Rima was considering Raj as her life saver and had developed weakness. In due course of time they have and had several physical meetings inside the work place as they find it lonely on weekend. But one tragedy happened on a particular day while they were intimacy noticed by the Security Officer came on check. The lady cried loudly seeing the person at door. She held Raj responsible and was forcefully keeping physical relation. Raj received sever punishment from the employer and finally Raj resigned from his job.]]
At the pretext we have to adhere the following lines for better result:
It’s easier to stop something happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it has happened. Therefore it is often said “prevention is better than cure (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure)’’.

From India, Mumbai

It is better to take timely action else the accused may get emboldened and may go further in their teasing /passing of remarks etc. Take the lady into confidence and enquire if she will be willing to testify as you want to put a logical end to this menace but you need her full cooperation including testifying before the committee set up by the company. If she can record the act before even coming to the committee that will certainly nail the accused but even otherwise eye-witness along with the victim statement should suffice to proceed in this matter. Do not sit on the matter, get the issue fixed.
From India, Hyderabad
1. Thought No. One: I just pity on the Management. A third party visitor tells you that your house is not in order and till then your officers did not smell anything? That too, happening very frequently !!
2. Thought No. Two: Why always think that every such happening in that company was a harassment ? Perhaps light and comical non-veg jokes or some sort might be a matter of enjoyment for that ladies group. I say so, because no lady has complained.
3. My Advice: HR of that company should take immediate steps to stop such things. Whether it is a public place or a private place, no person has any right to break social acceptable norms of dignity and good behaviour, specially when one is in company of fairer class of society. Whether it is intentional, unintentional or casual, whatever may be the reason, open taunting or under-belt comments are certainly subversive of discipline and so, they have to be properly dealt with. Perhaps, the reported matter may not be a matter of disciplinary action, yet it is an alarming signal for HR and it will be a challenging task for HR to prevent happing of such things any more.

From India, Kolhapur

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