A woman employee Devi (name changed) was working with LycaTech Services Private Limited (N-P5, Inner Ring Rd, Thiru Vi Ka Industrial Estate, Saidapet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600032) for the past few years. She was placed under a manager John (name changed) when she joined the company.
Manager John is a kind of person who doesn’t prefer to work with women employees. He mentioned it explicitly to the HR person when newly recruited woman employee was allotted to his team. Devi was directly recruited by the Vice President of the company and allotted to John’s team. As she was directly allotted by VP, John could not resist it. So, he had started harassing Devi indirectly making her to work for extended hours, delaying the completion of her performance appraisal process etc., unnecessarily. He tried to get rid of Devi by pushing her to relieve from the project or quit the organisation.
In the year 2017, she started facing sexual harassment from one of her team-mate. He was continuously passing comments on the dress and ornaments she was wearing. He once commented that the perfume she was using ‘creates mood’. Devi had raised this issue with the manager. Instead of guiding her to raise complaint with Internal Complaint Committee, the Manager said that he would take action on this. Also he advised Devi not to report this to senior management without his knowledge. Devi clearly conveyed the manager that she was not comfortable in talking to the team mate and requested not to ask her follow up for any activity with that person. She told that she had blocked his mobile number to stop unwanted conversations with him. But Manager John did not take any action against that person.
In the year 2018, Devi had gone for maternity leave and resumed her office in Sep, 2018. From that day onwards, she felt the gender biased behaviour of the manager continued and he was also supporting the team mate against whom she raised the complaint. Devi was a developer and the team mate was a tester. All the development work of Devi had to be tested by that person before it goes live . The Manager started blaming Devi for the mistakes done by that team mate. Devi was made to fix the problems created by him. He also delayed the testing of development work done by Devi, but it was not questioned by the manager, instead Devi was made to work for extended hours. Manager John wanted Devi to quit the job on her own, so he joined hands with the team mate and harassed her. He purposefully made Devi to work with that team mate even after she raised the sexual harassment complaint against him.
Finally she asked to approve her leave application based on medical certificates. But this was denied citing business emergency though it was not the actual reason. Also she was put in the same shift timings of the harassing team mate. Her request to change the shift timings was also not approved by the manager.
At this stage Devi, raised this complaint to the top management in March, 2019 as she had to take leave on medical grounds. Instead of setting up Internal Complaints Committee and conduct inquiry on the complaint, it was simply rejected stating that the sexual harassment issue happened a year back. Also the top management neither considered nor questioned the gender biased approach of the Manager. It did not question the fact that the manager failed to direct the sexual harassment complaint raised by Devi to ICC, he threatened the woman employee not to raise it to higher manager without his knowledge and harassed Devi. Instead, the management tried to place Devi under another manager since John did not want to work with her. When they could not find suitable projects for her skills, she was forced to resign from the company in April, 2019
It is found that Lych Tech had not setup a formal Internal Complaints Committee to inquire the sexual harassment complaints at workplaces and also failed to conduct awareness workshops to employees. This is in complete violation of Sexual Harassment on Women at Workplaces (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act 2013. This clearly shows a culture of impunity regarding sexual harassment prevailing in the company. Instead of perpetrators, the victims are punished through forceful resignations. They are denied equal rights to employment as well as justice for the harassment faced at workplaces. Like Devi few other women employees also faced sexual harassment problems in Lyca Tech which were not inquired as per law.
Having laws and acts for sexual harassment is important, but equally significant is the due process and policies at office level to empower women employees and create an inclusive working environment. Devi’s experience shows that the working environment of Lyca Tech protect the harassers instead of a dedicated workers like Devi.
FITE will be initiating actions against the companies and make sure the companies abide by the laws of the land. FITE calls upon the women employees in IT industry to unite and stand against all kind of harassment at their workplaces.
Forum for IT Employees(FITE)