Harassment at Workplace

Our family moved back to India in 2002, and we are thrilled to be back in our home soil. Having lived and worked abroad for over nineteen years, I felt I have come back with valuable experience that would benefit Madras companies. ( I am still getting used to saying Chennai). Wanting to exhibit my expertise in Human Service Management, I started asking few of management friends of mine if their company had "employee manuals" that spelt out the vision, objective, organizational hierarchy and code of conduct for all employees. They looked at me that as if I had asked for cure to AIDS.

While I am very proud of several positive changes in work culture in Madras, I am still at a loss to determine why several reputed local companies are not printing an employee manual. If expense is a problem, they can always get the manual back from the employees when they become Ex. My friend said that if I offered training on work ethics and handling harassment at workplace, I may not have takers for in some companies it will be hypocritical if they offered training to their employees while their management was into unethically harassing issues.

When I mention harassment, I mean, "any ongoing communication verbal, nonverbal or conduct that is unwelcome and that causes detrimental effect". It is the unwarranted conduct that is offensive/humiliating/intimidating to the point of affecting an employees' job performance. Harassment can happen because of any of the following conditions such as physical appearance, caste, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, religion. Neglecting harassment at work can cause

  • Low productivity
  • Low morale and poor employee relations
  • Frequent absenteeism
  • Resignation of valuable employees who cannot stand to experience or witness harassment.
  • Damage to company reputation
  • Lawsuits and unlimited monetary compensation

Oh, speaking of lawsuits, in 2003, I read in the news that a MNC had to cough up $3m to a woman in harassment case. In the "Visaka case" the apex court held in August 1997 stated that it was necessary and expedient for employers at workplaces and for other responsible persons or institutions to observe certain guidelines to ensure prevention of sexual harassment of women. So when the Government had issued a notification under the Tamil Nadu Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules 1947 to include sexual harassment of women at workplace misconduct. I thought finally Madras companies will wake up to the matter and so sent brochure to companies about my training program which will sensitize work ethics and harassment at workplace. My friend is probably right. I am yet have takers.