Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual behavior,which could be expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It can be physical, verbal or written.
Sexual harassment is covered in the workplace when it happens:
- at work
- at work-related events
- between people sharing the same workplace
- between colleagues outside of work.
- Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Very generally, “sexual harassment” describes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Title VII is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion, and it applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments.
Even with Title VII’s protections, many people across the country still face sexual harassment in their workplaces. This page offers basic information about sexual harassment and guidelines for next steps if you believe you may be experiencing sexual harassment at work.
Criminal Proceedings / Disciplinary action:
Where such conduct amounts to a specific offense under the Indian Penal Code or under any other law, the employer shall initiate appropriate action in accordance with law by making a complaint with the appropriate authority.In particular, it should ensure that victims or witnesses are not victimized or discriminated against while dealing with complaints of sexual harassment. The victims of sexual harassment should have the option to seek transfer of the perpetrator or their own transfer.
Where such conduct amounts to misconduct in employment as defined by the relevant service rules, appropriate disciplinary action should be initiated by the employer in accordance with those rules.
Complaint Procedure Must Be Time Bound:
Confidentiality of the complaint procedure has to be maintained.
Complainants or witnesses should not be victimized or discriminated against while dealing with complaints.
The Complaints Committee must take an annual report to the Government department concerned of the complaints and action taken by them.
The employers and person in charge will also report on the compliance with the aforesaid guidelines including on the reports of the Complaints Committee to the Government department.
Section 354, IPC deals with assault or criminal force to a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty and lays down that:
Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine or both.
Section 509, IPC deals with word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman and lays down that:
Whoever intending to insult the modesty of any woman utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or both. (Cognizable and bailable offenses).
- Civil suit can be filed for damages under tort laws. That is, the basis for filing the case would be mental anguish, physical harassment, loss of income and employment caused by the sexual harassment.
- Under the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act (1987) if an individual harasses another with books, photographs, paintings, films, pamphlets, packages, etc. containing "indecent representation of women"; they are liable for a minimum sentence of 2 years. Further section 7 (Offenses by Companies) holds companies where there has been "indecent representation of women" (such as the display of pornography) on the premisesguilty of offenses under this act, with a minimum sentence of 2 years.