Nearing 4 Years and After 40 Hearings, No Relief for TCS Sexual Harassment Survivor
Representational Image. (File Image)
A survivor of sexual harassment at the workplace from Chennai, employed at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), said that she had not got justice for nearly four years. Meanwhile, she has accused TCS management of continuing victimisation at the workplace.
Kavya* (name changed) filed a case at the Kanchipuram labour court in 2019 against the ruling of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of TCS. She accused the committee of being biased while considering a harassment complaint she had filed against her manager.
Speaking to NewsClick, Kavya said “I have sat through nearly 40 hearings and the company cooks up bizarre excuses for adjournments. Such as ‘our printer was not working, so we couldn’t bring the documents’ and ‘we printed the documents, but we could not bring them because binding shops were not open’.”
At the hearing on February 20, the company finally filed their documents.
Two judges have already changed in the case and the change in judges has contributed to the delay in court proceedings. The COVID-19 lockdowns have also added to the delay.
The complainant has submitted her oral and written arguments. TCS is yet to provide their final arguments. The next hearing is on March 28.
‘POOR ICC RECORDS REVEALED'
The complainant noted that in the past few hearings, it became evident the ICC did not maintain proper records of the enquiry proceedings.
The complainant said: “The company submitted only a handful of the documents I provided to the ICC board. The official emails, many Whatsapp messages and work screenshots were not submitted to the court.”
“The ICC is supposed to maintain a file of the provided material, especially with the committee report mentioning them as part of their reasoning and report,” she said.
“The ICC report makes mentions of the photos submitted by the accused as well. Even those are not present in the file,” she added.
“It is obvious that the ICC has withheld the documents and did not consider them as part of the enquiry. The committee was not transparent. This is a clear case to set aside the ICC report,” said Kavya.
The Union of IT Employees (UNITE), affiliated with the CITU, has extended support to the survivor in asserting that the ICC at TCS has not conducted a fair enquiry into the complaint.
Alagunambi Welkin, general secretary of UNITE, told NewsClick, “This case clearly reveals that companies like TCS are not following ICC guidelines, and the structures against sexual harassment at the workplace are still at a very nascent stage.”
VICTIMISED AT WORKPLACE
The complainant says that the management’s victimisation against her has not receded while tacit support to the accused throughout the course of the legal proceedings has remained.
She said, “One day recently, all of a sudden, I was harassed with continuous emails from the management. I was also asked to be a part of an online meeting. But when I was about to speak, one of the seniors said, ‘if she opens her mouth, I will drop out of the call’,” alleged Kavya.
“I am unclear about what they intend to do with all this. It seems like victimising me is the stand of the company with respect to this case,” she said.
The complainant also accused the management of frequently changing her projects and adding to her mental agony.
“I was demoted from the manager post in October 2022. When I raised a concern, I was immediately shifted to another project,” she said.
“It takes three to four months to learn what a project is about, and only after six months we can start performing well. If I were on the same project I would perform well. But I am deliberately shifted to different projects,” she claimed.
Bearing victimisation at the workplace, pressure to perform well, and the financial burden of the techno-legal costs, the complainant remains strong.
“I am hell-bent on not being demotivated by all these actions of the management. Despite harassment from the management, I am performing well and receiving good feedback from the project team,” she said.
The survivor is an only child and has the responsibility of caring for her ageing parents.
“I wish the case would be expedited and I get justice soon,” she said.
NewsClick approached TCS Chennai via email, seeking comments on the case, but received no response.
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