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WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT PREVENTION AND RESOLUTION POLICY

The content of this documents must not be reproduced or disclosed to any person outside the organisation either wholly or in parts without the prior consent of the Management representative.


  • Department
  • Date
  • Authored By
  • Shyamala Deshpande
  • Human Resource
  • 03/05/2014
  • Authored By
  • Balachandar N
  • Human Resource
  • 03/05/2014
  • Authored By
  • Balachandar N
  • Human Resource
  • 03/05/2014


  • Document Name:
  • Workplace Sexual Harassment Prevention & Resolution Policy
  • Version
  • 0.1
  • Prepared By

Objective

To provide a safe and respectful work environment / establish an atmosphere for employees that is free from Harassment or discrimination against employees on the basis of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, or physical or mental disability and outline the company’s policy to protect all categories of employees (Direct and indirect) against Sexual Harassment in particular.

Purpose

The Policy is meant to promote a healthy work environment that is free from harassment of all kinds for all those covered. The policy provides for an effective Complaint and Redressal mechanism for any cases of Harassment including Sexual Harassment.

Coverage

This policy shall apply to all employees, trainees, contract employees, interns, temporary workers, consultants and all those who are involved in the company’s activities directly or indirectly on a day-to-day basis, hereinafter referred to as the “Individual”. All employees, including supervisors and other management personnel, are expected and required to abide by this policy. No person will be adversely affected in employment with the employer as a result of bringing complaints of unlawful harassment or sexual harassment in particular.

Definitions:

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behaviour which is offensive to the person or persons it is targeted towards whether directly or by implication namely:-

Management Team

A Management team refers to the persons vested with the powers to take appropriate disciplinary action and comprises the senior management of the organisation which will include any employee designated as Chief Executive Officer, Managing Director, Director, President, Business Human Resources Head.

Complaint Communication Channel

The addresses / phone numbers / e-mail addresses etc of all members of the Internal Complaints Committee are given in Annexure 1

Complaint procedure

Sexual harassment of an individual at work place (Prevention, prohibition & redressal) Act, 2013

Procedure for Lodging Complaints

Any aggrieved Individual may lodge a complaint to the Internal Complaints Committee in writing within 90 days from the date of an incident and in case of continued harassment, 90 days from the last instance of harassment

Complaint of sexual harassment:

1. Where the aggrieved woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her physical incapacity, a complaint may be filed by:-

  • Her relative or friend

  • Her co-worker

  • An officer of the National Commission for Women or State Women’s Commission or

  • Any person who has knowledge of the incident, with the written consent of the aggrieved women

2. Where the aggrieved woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her medical incapacity, a complaint may be filed by:-

  • Her relative or friend

  • A special educator

  • A qualified psychiatrist or psychologist or

  • The guardian or authority under whose care she is receiving treatment or care, or

  • Any person who has knowledge of the incident, jointly with her relative or friend or a special educator or psychologist or the guardian or authority under whose care she is receiving treatment or care, or

3. Where the aggrieved women for any other reason is unable to make a complaint, a complaint may be filed by any person who has knowledge of the incident with her written consent.

4. Where the aggrieved women is dead, a complaint may be filed by any person who has knowledge of the incident with written consent of her legal heir.

Procedure on Receipt of Complaints

The Chairperson shall, within 90 working days of the receipt of a complaint under this policy, personally meet or designate a member of the Internal Complaints Committee to meet the Individual who has made the complaint and record the findings of such interview.

After the interview as stated above, the Chairperson shall, on being satisfied about the existence of a prima facie case of harassment, within a further period of 90 working days, appoint an Investigation Committee comprising of the members of the Internal Complaints Committee to investigate the complaint, after recording reasons thereof and inform the Internal Complaints Committee of his/her action.

If the Chairperson is satisfied that there is no prima facie case of harassment having occurred as complained of, he or she shall dismiss the complaint after recording in writing reasons therefor.

Investigation

The Investigation Committee shall promptly and thoroughly investigate the Complaint referred to it and submit to the Chairperson, a report of its findings within 10 working days from the date of the complaint being referred to it.

Every Individual shall cooperate with the Internal Complaints Committee in its investigation and any failure to cooperate with the Internal Complaints Committee in its investigation will be deemed as a contravention of this Policy.

The Committee shall document all investigations and findings. No person against whom a Complaint is made shall be part of the Investigation Committee.

Internal Complaints Committee can recommend to the employer, at the request of the aggrieved employee, interim measures such as (i) transfer of the aggrieved woman or the respondent to any other workplace; or (ii) granting leave to the aggrieved woman up to a period of 3 months in addition to her regular statutory/ contractual leave entitlement. The complaints committee at the written request of the aggrieved women may recommend to the employer to restrain the respondent from reporting on the work performance of the aggrieved women or writing her confidential report, and assign the same to another officer.

Manner of inquiry into complaint:-

1. At the time of filing the complaint, the complainant shall submit to the Complaint Committee, six copies of the complaint along with supporting documents and the names and the addresses of the witnesses.

2. On the receipt of complaint, the Complaints Committee shall send one of the copies received from the aggrieved woman to the respondent within a period of seven working days.

3. The respondent shall file his reply to the complaint along with his list of documents and names and addresses of witnesses within a period not exceeding ten working days from the date of receipt of the documents.

4. The complaints Committee shall make inquiry into the complaint in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

5. The complaints Committee shall have the right to terminate the inquiry procedure or to give an ex-parte decision on the complaint, if the complainant or respondent fails, without sufficient cause to present herself or himself for three consecutive hearings convened by the Chairperson or Presiding Officer, as the case may be: Provided that such termination or ex-parte order may not be passed without giving a notice in writing, fifteen days in advance, to the party concerned.

6. The parties shall not be allowed to bring in any legal practitioner to represent them in their case at any stage of the proceedings before the Complaints Committee.

7. In conducting the inquiry, a minimum of three members of the Complaints Committee including the Presiding officer or Chairperson, as the case may be, shall be present.

Refer to Annexure 3 for details on “ Harassment Investigation Guide for members of the Internal Complaints Committee”

Proceedings and Communication of Findings

The Complaints Committee shall consider the findings of the report and communicate the findings and recommendations to the Business Head. The Business Head will take appropriate action in consultation with the Chairperson of Internal Complaints Committee and communicate the findings to the complainant and the concerned Individual against whom such complaint was made within 60 days from the date of the investigation report.

The Business Head will also ensure that a closure report is submitted to the Chairperson of the Internal Complaints Committee on completion of any action taken.

The Internal Complaints Committee shall follow principles of natural justice in all its proceedings and shall maintain confidentiality of the identity of the complainant and the witnesses.

In case of complaint against Individual, who is/are members of the Complaints Committee, the Chairperson shall entrust the proceedings to the NGO representative to investigate the complaint and such person shall have the same powers as the Internal Complaints Committee in implementing this policy. Manner of taking action for sexual harassment:- When the Complaint Committee arrives at the conclusion of allegation against the respondent and it has been proved, it shall recommend to the employer , to take any action including a written apology, warning, reprimand or censure, withholding of promotion, withholding of pay rise or increments, terminating the respondent from service or undergoing a counseling session or carrying out community service.

Privacy

As appropriate, the Company will work to protect the confidentiality of the identity of all parties involved and the nature of circumstances involved and/or relating to any allegation or complaint of harassment except when disclosure is appropriate or necessary for purposes in connection with the investigation of the allegation or complaint and/or taking appropriate remedial or disciplinary measures.

Appeal Procedure

If the victim of harassment feels unsatisfied with the outcome of his/her complaint to the Unit Complaints committee, he/she may appeal to the Group Complaints Committee or a Court within 90 days from the date of last proceedings. This committee after hearing the appeal shall review the case and present their recommendations to the appropriate Management Team. The decision of the Group Level Management Team will be communicated to the Business Head to implement the recommendations.

Appeal- Subject to any person aggrieved from the recommendation made or non implementation of such recommendations may prefer an appeal to the affiliate authority notified under industrial employment act 1946 (20 0f 1946)

Implementation of the Recommendation

The punishment may be by way of any disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment as may be decided by the Internal Complaints Committee.

The implementation of the orders shall be within 60 days of the receipt of recommendation from the Internal Complaints Committee Chairperson may award interim relief to the complainant during the course of investigation to prevent any further Harassment or to safeguard the complainant from threats and retributions.

Determination of Compensation

For the purpose of determining the sums to be paid to the aggrieved woman, the Internal Complaints Committee shall have regard to:-

  • The mental trauma, pain, suffering and emotional distress caused to the aggrieved woman;

  • The loss in the career opportunity due to the incident of sexual harassment

  • Medical expenses incurred by the victim for physical or psychiatric treatment

  • The income and financial status of the respondent

  • Feasibility of such payment in lump sum or in instalments.

Penalties

Action against Frivolous Complaints: So as to ensure that the protections contemplated under the Sexual Harassment Act do not get misused, provisions for action against “false or malicious” complainants have been made .Every Individual who lodges a false complaint or false evidence shall be liable for disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment as per the rules of the Company. Where the complains committee arrives at the conclusion that the allegation against the respondents is malicious or the aggrieved women or any other person making the complaint, has made the complaint knowing it to be false or the aggrieved women or any other person making the complaint as produced any false or misleading documents, it may recommend to the employer , as the case may be, to take action.

Every Individual who threatens or intimidates (a) any Individual who has made a complaint under this policy or (b) any witness thereof, shall be liable for disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment as per the rules of the Company.

If an employer fails to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee or does not comply with any provisions contained therein, the Sexual Harassment Act prescribes a monetary penalty of up to INR 50,000. A repetition of the same offence could result in the punishment being doubled and / or de-registration of the entity or revocation of any statutory business licenses

Miscellaneous

The Complaints Committee shall ensure a quorum of at least 2 members when taking a decision/meeting.

The Management shall as soon as possible, after the coming into force of this policy submit the same to the concerned Government Department as partial compliance with the Supreme Court judgement in this regard.

Employee Responsibilities

The Aggrieved person

Consider using an informal method of resolution if the behaviour was minor. Only use this method if you feel it will permanently stop the offensive behaviour without reprisal and you feel the offender should be given a chance to change.

  • Consider filing a formal complaint with the Complaints Committee if the incident and behaviour is serious, absolutely unacceptable, or repeated (especially after telling the offender to stop)

  • Every Individual is entitled to a work environment that is free from Harassment.

  • Every Individual shall be entitled to complain against harassment to which he/she was subject to or which was targeted at him/her, to the Internal Complaints Committee established under this Policy.

  • Anybody who complains to the Internal Complaints Committee or participates in the investigations of the Committee for giving evidence or statements shall not be victimised or subjected to any unfavourable treatment in the conditions of his/her work.

The procedure for reporting incidents of harassing behaviour is not intended to impair, replace, or limit the right of any employee to seek a remedy under any appropriate judicial court.

The Offending Person

  • Stop the behaviour immediately.

  • If you feel you may have harassed someone, take action.

  • Apologise. Ask another person or supervisor for advice and accompany you to the person who was subject to Harassment, or intervene on your behalf.

  • Talk to the person who was subject to Sexual Harassment and discuss how you two can communicate more effectively without giving room for offensive statements.

  • If a formal complaint has been filed, seek legal counsel or assistance to understand your rights.

The Friend or Co-Worker

  • If you are approached by a friend or co-worker who feels he or she was discriminated against or harassed, take action.

  • Encourage the person who was subject to Sexual Harassment to approach the offending person directly or use other informal resolution methods.

  • Offer to accompany the person who was subject to Harassment to the offending person, the Internal Complaints Committee or an agency to file a formal complaint.

  • Any incident of Sexual Harassment that comes to the knowledge of any Individual shall be reported to the Internal Complaints Committee promptly.

The Supervisor

  • If you observe or are approached about discrimination or Sexual Harassment, take action.

  • Advise the person who was allegedly subject to Sexual Harassment of his or her right to seek help through the compliance officer.

  • Advise the offending person to cease harassment immediately. If the alleged offender is a supervisor, report it immediately to the Internal Complaints Committee and encourage the complainant to do the same.

  • Act promptly and take corrective action if you supervise the offending individual.

  • Warn all parties immediately against behaviour, which may look like direct or indirect reprisal.

The Employer

In addition to ensuring compliance with the other provisions stipulated, the Sexual Harassment Act casts certain obligations upon the employer to, inter alia,

  • Provide a safe working environment.

  • Display conspicuously at the workplace, the penal consequences of indulging in acts that may constitute sexual harassment and the composition of the Internal Complaints Committee

  • Organise workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitising employees on the issues and implications of workplace sexual harassment and organising orientation programmes for members of the Internal Complaints Committee. Manner to organise workshop etc.,–

    1. Formulate and widely disseminate an internal policy or charter or resolution or declaration for prohibition prevention and redressal of sexual harassment at the work place intended to promote gender sensitive work spaces and remove underlying factors that contribute towards a hostile work environment against women.

    2. Carry out orientation programs and seminars for the members of the internal committee.

    3. Carry out employees awareness programs and create forum for dialogues.

    4. Conduct capacity building and skill building programs for the members of the internal committee.

    5. Declare the name and contact details of all members of internal committee.

    6. Use modules developed by the state governments to conduct workshops and awareness programs for sensitising the employees with the provisions of the Act.

  • Treat Sexual harassment as a misconduct under the service rules and initiate action for misconduct.

The employer is also required to monitor the timely submission of reports by the Internal Complaints Committee.

Reporting

Preparation of Annual report – The annual report that the Complaints Committee shall prepare shall have the following details:-

  1. Number of complaints of sexual harassment received in the year.

  2. Number of complaints disposed off during the year.

  3. Number of cases pending for more than 90 days.

  4. Number of workshops or awareness programs against sexual harassment carried out.

  5. Nature of action taken by employer or district officer.

  • The Internal Complaints Committee shall in each calendar year prepare, in such a form and at such time as may be prescribed, an annual report and submit the same to the employer and the District Officer.

  • The District Officer shall forward a brief report on the annual reports received to the State Government.

The employer shall include in its report the number of cases filed, if any, and their disposal under this Act in annual report of his organisation or where no such report is required to be prepared intimate such number of cases, if any, to the District Officer.

ANNEXURE 1

List of Internal Complaints Committee, Bangalore for the period May 14 to April 17

  • Position
  • Name
  • E-Mail
  • Chairperson
  • Leena Bekal
  • leena@cafecoffeeday.com
  • Member
  • Asitha
  • asitha@abccoffeeday.com
  • Member
  • Shyamala Deshpande
  • shyamala@cafecoffeeday.com
  • Member
  • Ashwin Sadananda
  • ashwin.sadanand@abccoffeeday.com
  • Member(external)
  • Niveditha Halappa
  • niveditha.kh@svghvtc.org

ANNEXURE 2

The following will be construed as Misconduct which will invoke strict disciplinary action from the organisation which can be upto termination of employment This list is not exhaustive and misconduct may not be limited by these acts only:

  • Unwelcome remarks, slurs, jokes, taunts, or suggestions about a person’s body, clothing, race, national or ethnic, origin, colour, religion, age, sex, marital status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, pardoned conviction, or other personal characteristics.

  • Unwelcome sexual remarks, invitations, or requests (including persistent, unwanted contact after the end of a relationship)

  • Displays of sexually explicit, sexist, racist, or other offensive or derogatory material.

  • Written or verbal abuse or threats.

  • Practical jokes that embarrass or insult someone.

  • Leering (suggestive staring) or other offensive gestures or making obscene signs with one’s fingers or hands.

  • Unwelcome physical contact, such as patting, brushing, hugging, touching, pinching, hitting.

  • Indecent exposure; Patronising an employee in front of co – workers

  • Abuse of authority that undermines someone’s performance or threatens her or his career

  • Vandalism of personal property

  • Physical or sexual assault

  • Graphic descriptions of pornography, showing pornography or sending, showing indecent letters and email messages

  • Terms of endearment, such as calling a co – worker “honey”, “dear”, “sweetheart”, or some similar expressions

  • Invasion of privacy or practical jokes causing physical or psychological distress

  • Pressurise to become involved in anti – social or criminal behaviour

  • Verbal and/or physical intimidation – threats, shouting, derisory remarks, often in front of others

  • Ostracism, or conversely, excessive supervision

  • Undermining of the individual’s position by changing work objectives/guidelines without consultation, taking credit for the target’s work, deriding the target’s work to supervisors, etc

  • Removing areas of responsibility and giving people menial or trivial tasks to do instead Withholding information; Spreading malicious rumours, etc

Annexure 3

Harassment Investigation Guide for members of the Internal Complaints Committee

  • Getting the employee to describe the claim:

    • Listen to the charge. Don't make comments like, “You're overreacting.”

    • Acknowledge that bringing a harassment complaint is a difficult thing to do.

    • Maintain a professional attitude.

    • Gather the facts; don't be judgemental.

    • Ask who, what, when, where, why, and how. Find out if the employee is afraid of retaliation. How does the employee want the problem resolved?

    • Ask the employee to give the complaint in writing . Offer assistance if required to write down the complaint.

  • Conducting an investigation of the claim—general rules to follow:

    • Investigate immediately. Delaying or extending an investigation can make witness testimony increasingly unreliable.

    • Remember that the manner in which the investigation is handled can itself furnish grounds for a hostile environment claim, so carefully document every step.

    • Treat all claims seriously—even those that seem frivolous—until you have reason to do otherwise.

    • Keep the investigation confidential. Emphasise to those involved that your discussions are not to be shared with unconcerned parties. Warn of possible disciplinary action, if necessary.

    • Limit the number of persons who have access to the information. Communicate strictly on a “need to know” basis.

    • Ask questions so that information is not unnecessarily disclosed. For example, instead of asking, “Did you see _________ touch _____?” ask “Have you seen anyone touch Joan at work in a way that made her uncomfortable?” Remember—the purpose of the investigation is to gather facts, not disseminate allegations.

    • If there is more than one allegation, treat each separately.

    • Never broadcast the facts of a given situation or the results as an example to others or as a training tool.

  • Interviewing the complainant (Can be done when employee first reports charge):

    • Get specific details.

    • Find out whether there was a pattern of previous episodes or similar behaviour toward another employee.

    • Get the specific context in which the conduct occurred. Where? What time?

    • Determine the effect of the conduct on the complainant. Was it economic, non-economic and/or psychological?

    • Determine the time relationship between the occurrence of the conduct, its effect on the complainant, and the time when the complainant made the report.

    • Prepare a detailed chronology.

    • Analyse whether there might have been certain events that triggered the complaint, i.e., promotion, pay or transfer denial.

    • Determine whether there were any possible motives on the part of the complainant.

    • Find out what the complainant wants.

    • Explain to the complainant that the charges are serious, that you will conduct a thorough investigation before reaching any conclusion, and that he or she will not be retaliated against for making the complaint.

    • Don't make any statements about the accused employee’s character, job performance, or family life.

  • Interviewing the offending person:/accused :

    • Obtain a statement from the accused.

    • Identify the relationship of the accused to the complainant.

    • Was there any prior consensual relationship between the parties? How long have they known each other? Is there a history of group or individual socialising?

    • If the individual was a supervisor, indicate the individual's job title, obtain a copy of the individual's job description, and determine the individual's specific duties at the time of the alleged harassment.

    • Determine whether the accused directed, or had responsibility for the work of other employees or the complainant, had authority to recommend employment decisions affecting others or was responsible for the maintenance or administration of the records of others.

    • You can expect the accused to deny the charges. Observe the reaction. Note whether there is surprise, anger, or disbelief. Describe the details of the allegation and note the areas of disagreement between the testimonies of both parties. If the accused denies the allegations, probe further to determine with the accused the background, reasons, and motivation that could possibly trigger the complaint.

Interviewing witnesses:

  • Obtain statements from any witnesses who support or deny any of the complainant's allegations. Be aware that witnesses are often reluctant to come forward out of fear of reprisal.

  • Assure all witnesses that their cooperation is important, that their testimony is confidential and that they will not be retaliated against for testifying.

Interviewing witnesses:

  • Apologise for the incident occurring, if that is appropriate.

  • When attempting to remedy the conduct, avoid requiring the claimant to work less desirable hours or in a less desirable location. If you offer to transfer the complainant, try to get the complainant's consent and make sure the transfer position is substantially similar to the complainant's prior position. This helps ensure that the complainant is not being illegally punished for reporting discrimination or harassment.

  • Consider the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the conduct when imposing discipline on the harasser. There are several disciplinary options available, including:

    • oral and written warning

    • reprimand

    • suspension

    • probation

    • transfer

    • demotion

    • termination

  • When imposing discipline on the accused, any forms of discipline short of termination should be accompanied by a warning that similar misconduct in the future may result in immediate termination. If no discipline is imposed, document the reasons why.

  • Provide remedial counseling and training on sexual harassment, if appropriate. Also take the opportunity to re-communicate your policy.

  • Carefully and fully document the investigation, the discipline imposed, and any remedial steps taken.

  • Conduct follow-up interviews with the parties to inform them of the company’s actions.

Annexure 4

Fees or allowances for Member of Internal Committee:

1. The member appointed from amongst non government organisations shall be entitled to an allowance of two hundred rupees per day for holding proceedings of Internal Committee and also the reimbursement of travel cost incurred in travelling by train, in three tier air condition or air conditioned bus and auto rickshaw or taxi or actual amount spent by him on travel, whichever is less.

The employer shall be responsible for the payment of the allowances

Person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment:

Person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment shall be the person who has expertise on issues relating to sexual harassment and may include any of the following:-

. A social worker with at least five years experience in the field of social work which leads to creation of social condition favourable towards empowerment of women and in particular in addressing workplace sexual harassment

. A person who is familiar with labour, service, civil & criminal Law

Fees or allowances for Chairperson and members of local committee:

1. The Chairperson of the local committee shall be entitled to an allowance of two hundred and fifty rupees per day for holding the proceedings of the said committee.

2. The members of the local committee other than the members nominated shall be entitled to an allowance of two hundred rupees per day for holding the proceeding of the said committee and also the reimbursement of travel cost incurred in travelling by train in three tier AC or AC bus and auto rickshaw or taxi, or the actual amount spent by him on travel, whichever is less.

The Employer shall be responsible for the payment of the allowances