Q9. An apparel manufacturing company having a large number of women employees was losing sales due to various factors. The company hired a reputed marketing executive, who increased the volume of sales within a short span of time. However, some unconfirmed reports came up regarding his indulgence in sexual harassment at the workplace.
After sometime, a women employee launched a formal complaint to the management against the marketing executive about sexually harassing her. Faced with the companies’ indifference, in not taking cognizance of her grievances, she lodged an FIR with the police.
Realizing the sensitivity and gravity of the situation, the company called the women employee to negotiate. In that, she was offered a hefty sum of money to withdraw the complaint and the FIR and to also give in writing that the marketing executive was not involved in the case.
Identify the ethical issues involved in this case. What options are available to the women employee? (250 words) (20 marks)
Every organisation in a country must comply with the laws of the country and should follow the ethical standards. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work. Accordingly, every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee to investigate any complaint of sexual harassment lodged with it. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act is a punishable offence and repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or deregistration of company.
Not taking the appropriate action against the person sexually harassing a woman employee is highly unethical. The employer must follow the principle of paternalism and protect the honour of the woman employee. If suitable action is not taken in time, it will encourage mischief of the marketing executive and encourage similar behaviour by other employees.
The woman employee has the following options.
1. Accept the offer: She can accept the offer and withdraw the complaint and the FIR. She can give in writing that the marketing executive is not involved in the case. Such an action may benefit her financially, but spoil her reputation since people would soon know that she has compromised her honour for money.
She may face further harassment in future. It will also encourage similar behaviour against other women in the office by others. Hence, this is not the right option.
2. Pursue the case: She must pursue the case with the police and get the man arrested and prosecuted. She must also get the employer punished under the Act. She must never compromise with her honour and reputation. This is the right option. (270 words)