Some provisions of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013

 Introduction

A workplace is a place in which a person spends more than half of his/her entire day. If a woman does not feel safe at her workplace, then it becomes the responsibility of the employer to make sure that the female employees should feel safe. Sexual Harassment of Woman at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 provides the various provisions so that the act of sexual harassment can be prevented and prohibited in the workplaces.

False and Malicious Complaint

It gives the liberty to the women to file the complaint in the Internal Complaint Committee or Local Complaint Committee if she has gone through any act of sexual harassment at her workplace. But, on the contrary, and to prevent the filing of false or malicious complaint Section 14 has been inserted in the Act. Many women in the workplace do take advantage of this Act and file a false complaint to trouble the male employees or the employer.

As per Section 14 of the act if the Internal Complaint Committee or Local Complaint Committee feels that the complaint made by the aggrieved women or any other person if false and the allegations against the respondents are malicious or the aggrieved women or any other person has produced the forged or misleading document, then the committee can recommend to the employer to take action against the woman or the person who has made the complaint.

Criteria for the Compensation awarded to the victim

As per section 13 of the Act, the compensation should be awarded to an aggrieved woman. Section 15 tells the criteria for deciding the amount of compensation. The committees will look into the following factors before deciding the amount of compensation:

  1. Mental trauma and the emotional distress caused to the aggrieved woman.
  2. The loss in the career opportunity of the aggrieved woman.
  3. Medical expenses incurred by the victim.
  4. The income and financial status of the person who needs to pay the money.
  5. The mode of such payment (in a lump sum or in installments).

Non-Disclosure of the Identity

One of the most important reasons by the women not complaining about the act of sexual harassment to the committees is that of the fear of disclosing their identity in the public. We live in a world in which even after 70 plus years of independence, the incident of sexual harassment is one of the taboos of the country. People rarely talk about this openly. Therefore, section 16 gives protection to the victim/aggrieved woman to conceal her identity.

It protects not only the victim but all the persons that are connected to the case under this section. As per the section,

(i) the identity and the addresses of the aggrieved woman,

(ii) respondent and witnesses,

(iii) any information related to the conciliation proceeding,

(iv) recommendation of Internal Complaint Committee or Local Complaint Committee and

(v) any action taken by the employer will not be disclosed, communicated or published or made known to the public, press, and media in any manner.

But the section also comes with the exception that if it serves any information keeping in mind the aim of securing the ends of justice without disclosing the name, address, identity or any other details, then it will not be punished.

Section 17 states the punishment for contravening section 16. It states that, whoever discloses any information related to the case in any manner, that person shall be liable for a penalty under as per the service rules.

Appeal

The Act also provides the option of the appeal under Section 18. If it does not satisfy any person with the recommendations passed by the committee under:

(i) Sections 13 which deals with preparing inquiry report prepared by the committee,

(ii) Section 14 which deals with punishment for malicious complaint and

(iii) Section 17 which deals with the penalty for publicizing the information related to the complainant/respondent,

then the appeal can be filed within the period of 90 days of the recommendations.