Travel agency director fined ₹10.80 lakh for sexual harassment of employee

Holding the director of a travel agency here guilty of sexually harassing a woman employee at the workplace, the Local Committee (Gurugram) has directed the accused to pay ₹10.8 lakh to the complainant as one-time compensation and tender an unconditional apology. It also ordered his immediate removal from his current role.

Fine on start-up too

The committee also imposed ₹50,000 fine on the agency for failing to provide a safe environment to the employees.

Set up under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the Local Committee, also known as Local Complaints Committee, has the mandate to hear cases for companies without Internal Complaint Committees or in case the accused is a director/CEO of the firm.

Passing the directions, the committee said the award was based on a similar judgment in the case of IP Infusion Software India Private Limited, Bengaluru on December 27, 2016 and meant to serve as reminder and deterrent to the accused to refrain from such actions in the future.

The 27-year-old complainant had accused the company’s director Amit Rai Malhotra, 45, of sexually harassing her on several occasions between September 2019 and January 21, 2020.

She said she brought up the matter with her supervisor, department head, and even the Chief Executive Officer, but to no avail.

The committee in its judgment relied on the consistency in the complainant’s narration of events, supporting evidence in the form of WhatsApp messages sent by her to the supervisor showing that she had experienced discomfort and the testimonies of two eyewitnesses.

Bid to delay case

In a 27-page-order, the three-member committee chaired by Rshmi Khetrapal also observed that attempts to drag the case by filing complaints with the National Commission for Women, police and the committee itself with allegations and counter allegations of influencing witnesses and tampering with the evidence were clearly aimed at delaying the case and tiring the victim.

The respondents in the case alleged that the complainant had conspired with her two colleagues since they were terminated and levelled false charges. But the committee dismissed the conspiracy theory saying the complainant came from a conservative family and was not likely to risk her reputation for her colleagues.

The committee also noted that none of the defence witnesses stated anything untoward regarding her character or performance at work. In her complaint, she never raised any demand for financial compensation or to reinstate her colleagues, the order said.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 12:41:43 AM |

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