When I was working with my previous employer, I denied my manager's request to toggle the performance rating of 2 of my reportees. I escalated the same to HR and they also backed my decision. Within 2 months, he tried to come up with a fake sexual harassment story. HR called and tortured me for a long while [June 21 - July 18] saying that I harassed those ladies even without constituting an ICC also. They actually was helping one of my project manager to retaliate. They mentioned regarding the sexual harassment complaint & POSH Act driven investigation through word of mouth & email. They still even didn't share the details of the complaint also though they were always saying that I am under an investigation based on POSH Act. I requested the copy of the complaint lodged against me several times from the center HR till CEO though till they day no one shared anything.

They even had a meeting with me to discuss about the lodged allegations face to face and issued a severe warning also saying that I confessed that I maintained an illicit relationship with an ex-lady employee who left company in 2017. When I asked the copy of the policy which was violated by myself (through email), none of them even replied too for the same.

When I asked about the status of the sexual harassment complaint they replied, verbally, that they are getting new things coming up everyday and it may takes some time. I have recorded this conversation without their knowledge. They repeated the same through email also.
Their management tried to influence a lady employee (who was reporting to me) to come up with false allegations against me though she denied their request.
Finally when I said that I would take legal action against them, the simply sent an email saying that they closed the investigation as it was a preliminary investigation. They also said in the email that they are not responsible to share any kind of details as NO formal investigation was done.

Then I sent my manager a legal notice and he replied that he received complaints from few of my reportee and he just communicated the same to HR. Hence he never ever tried to torture me. From this reply notice, it is very much clear that my manager only came up with those allegation and HR was simply helping them without any ICC or complaints.
I do have concrete evidences for all these instances. Can I file a defamation case against the employer?
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HR people who interacted with me regarding sexual harassment complaints were the author of Sexual Harassment Policy of the Organization. They only said that they are getting new things coming up everyday and it take some time & the investigation is to find out whether I violated the POSH Act (through email). HR director only told in email [on July 18 2018] that they did only the preliminary investigation and NO formal investigation was done [After 28 days of the first communication regarding the investigation - 21 June 2018]. Still I dont know whom, when, how and where did I harass.
Dear Syammohan,

I can understand that a severe or trying experience that you have gone through. When one is innocent, it is far more frustrating to go through the ordeal.

If you wish to file a defamation suit in the court then it would depend on the material evidence at hand. You have written that "I have recorded this conversation without their knowledge. They repeated the same through email also.

You also have written that "Finally when I said that I would take legal action against them, the simply sent an email saying that they closed the investigation as it was a preliminary investigation. They also said in the email that they are not responsible to share any kind of details as NO formal investigation was done."

Check with the lawyer whether the evidence is sufficient to sue the HR Head and the Manager.

However, we also need to study the merits and demerits of filing a suit. Following are the merits of filing the suit:

a) It will be a matter of satisfaction to you since you will be bringing to book who harassed you.
b) It will be a lesson to not just HR but to the entire organisation as a whole on using sexual harassment case as a weapon to checkmate someone.

The following are the demerits of filing the suit:

c) Court cases drag on for the years together. Even if you win the case, you will not have the energy to enjoy the victory.
d) Much depends on how the lawyer pleads the case. Court verdicts depend on the force with which the lawyers put forth their arguments. Notwithstanding the material evidence, what if the lawyer of the other party outsmarts your lawyer?
e) Company management will like the employees going to court. What if they remove from the job HR, Manager and you? They might pay some compensation that is on and above the notice period. But you will not have any job at hand. When the future employer comes to know that you have filed a suit in the court against the HR and Manager, who will give you the job?

So what is the way forward?

The way forward is to send a lawyer's notice. This is sufficient to scare your Manager and HR both. They will come to terms to pay the compensation in their personal capacity. Take the compensation and start looking for the job. Quit the employment honourably. Of course, this option is also fraught some risks.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar
Hi Sir,
Thanks a lot for the quick reply. I left the job in the said employer in 2019 July and joined new employer. Itís background verification is also done. So I donít think such a threat is not there.

On the other hand, I am thinking about a defamation case not only for my satisfaction but also to avoid another Syam Mohan in my previous employer.

I have already sent a legal notice to my previous employer and yet to receive any reply so far. When I spoke to my lawyer, he said that we canít file it as a defamation suit. Thatís why I thought to post this here and collect opinion from experts like you.

Do you think we can file a defamation case against them? Or it is just eligible for a compensation case?

Once again thanks a lot for your time and response.
Dear Syammohan,

Defamation or otherwise, as long as you get compensation, everything is fine. You have sent the notice to your former employer. But then who will be the exact respondents? If you just make the management of the company as respondent, then nothing is going to happen. This is because they have enough time and energy to fight a legal battle.

It is important to make your manager and HR Head as the respondent. Unless they are dragged in the court, your case will not have any specific target.

By the way, in case if you think of filing a suit against the former company then think whether it would be appropriate to keep your current employer informed. Do not go against their wish. Otherwise, convince them why it is important to file a suit against them.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar
I have mentioned COO, President, HR Director, HR Manager & Manager as the respondents. I would talk to my current employer regarding the defamation case.
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