My Story

Said no to sexual demands, instead of assistance, I am being told I was doing this for fun
Story Id - 3012

women workplace discrimination

Key Hostile Behavior faced – Sexual Harassment

Read My Story

I have been working with a multinational company since 2013, this is the company I joined as a campus placement. I have been doing good over here and have got 2 promotions since the time I joined. In the month of September 2016, we had a new supervisor who joined our team as the previous one resigned and left. The new manager came from an internal transfer and has been with the company for quite some time. From what I understand, he has more than 15 years’ experience and a sizeable one in our company.

During one of the offsite post his joining as our supervisor, there were games which the facilitator was getting all of us to play, according to them, these are management games, which help build a strong team and have positive impact on the company. So, all of us, about 20 of us, 10 of us were women also played. Everything is done in a very professional manner.

During the game, one of the questions was, “who is the smartest person in the room”, and that came to me. I took the name of my manager. This was not out of any feeling or emotion, but just an honest comparison of all present in the room. I then forgot about it, until I was reminded of it very rudely later.

Once we reached back office, the manager would take everyone present in the office for a small tea break right outside the office, it would be 15 minutes’ break and about 5-10 of us would go. He was also habitual of taking people for tea breaks and do their reviews, or just have a chit chat with them on how work is happening. Therefore, when in January he called me for such a tea break alone, I quickly ran over my targets, took note of challenges I have faced till now and the accomplishments I have had, I prepared myself as preparing for an appraisal discussion. The meeting didn’t really go like that. We just had tea, he asked about my family, and told me about his. Then he said we will do the appraisal discussion in office.

Our meeting then became once a week and they would be everything except office work, from hobbies, to what I do in free time and he would share about his experience and his dream and career aspirations. Back at office, I started getting some real high profile projects, I was even sent on a 10-day international trip.

Once I was back from the trip, he again called me for a meeting, but this time it was in the conference room. He started by asking how the trip went, and in a few minutes of time moved the discussion to how he and his wife had a tiff during this time.

Next day during office hours, he invited me for dinner by sending an email, this was new to me. I did not respond, then he called me to the meeting room around 6 pm and started talking about my evening plans, when I started answering, he said, come on, let us behave like adults. I know you are interested in me, it’s not as if I have invited you over to my house for a night, it’s just dinner. Ok, if you are not comfortable, let us plan some other day. I just stood and he left the room.

I did not talk about it, but ensured I did not meet him alone and avoided him totally, about 2 weeks later, in the meeting room again, he asked me to wait once everyone left, he did so by saying, he would like to do a review with me. As everyone left, he came very close, held me with his arm around my waist and almost close to kissing me, said, how about tonight. I just froze, probably either sensing my fear or not being prepared himself, he laughed very loudly and then left the room.

Some days later I got a call that the HR person wants to meet me, and I was told that they want to discuss about the incident. Fortunately, the day the meeting was fixed, the HR person was on leave and his manager met me. On hearing the incident, he mentioned that he will pick it up with the relevant committee and respond on the way forward. He also mentioned that someone from the team had written to HR about an incident. He mentioned they will investigate with the manager, and revert.

On the 1st of march, I was called in the room, the HR person was there, a lady was there, she said she is from the companies sexual harassment committee and the HR person to whom I had reported was there.

They mentioned that the complaint I had filed was found to be false, the manager was just having fun and so was I, and hence they cannot take any action either against the manager or in shifting me out of the department. When I asked, how did they figure that out, as no one ever asked me about any detail or anything. They mentioned, they did an investigation which involved talking to number of the manager’s team members, and they said while all of them reported that the manager was funny, no one mentioned that he was disrespectful to women, and none of them had ever been targeted this way, so much so that some of them even told them that they have gone for those lone tea meeting and found him to be a gentleman.

The disturbing part then started, they said, infact, I had said during the offsite that the smartest person was the manager and I had feelings. Infact they went on to say that when they talked to the manager, the manager mentioned that it was I who was wanting to be after him and giving passes, which is why he told me that he is married and has 2 kids.

I really did not know how to proceed, the HR team asked me to forget about the incident and focus on work deliveries. Couple of days later, I was communicated my performance rating, and it was poor performance, which meant I would have to leave the company in 2 months’ time. When I told the manager how is it that my performance is poor, as all my targets are met, he simply said, that targets that you have met are as a result of the managers help and not alone, which is why this rating.

I wrote to the CEO and the very same day he replied by saying that the committee has done a fair investigation and they have communicated the findings to me.

I really do not know what to do, I am losing my job in 2 months, more so I am afraid that this whole thing of me trying to flirt with a married man will spread in the company and if that reaches my parents it is going to be impossible for me to bear and explain that I am actually not at fault.

I now plan to simply resign and not go to office form the coming week.

How did it end and Current Status

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Comments

Preeti
I am not sure I am too late in replying, however manager against whom the complaint is filed cannot do performance appraisal of the complainant. So you can challenge that, I don't advise filing a FIR unless you have some evidence or any witness to corroborate your claim, you may challenge the verdict of ICC in the appellate court, also we need to know the process ICC followed for conducting an investigation. We can check the loopholes there, Please connect with me on my email to discuss this further.
Amitabh Neehar
The incident should be reported to police as this is a criminal offence. The company should be dragged to court for damages and the performance appraisal should also be challenged.
Pradnya Deshmukh
First thing is that Company should not facilitate managers to take the employee outside for Tea break or one to one meet. Also, her personal mail received from the manager shows the different practice, not with others. It indicates his vulgar intentions. Hr and the Committee is not working properly. She should call him in the central place of the office , slap him, inform other lady members and move out. She should inform her wife also, so that she can control him. She may ask for transfer to other dept.and company can give her a chance after studying her past performance record.
Shrishti
Thanks for bringing this up. This happens with every female employee. Why do managers want to take out the employees for a minute when they have a cabin? This malpractice must be stopped. Why do the investigative team took such a severe step? They could have counseled both the group tactfully and have warned them not to focus on personal life. Also they could have asked Manager that why he didn't reported the incident in the first place. Why is he informing this now as a part of defense? Being a manager he must be vigilant as well as co-operative. Sexual Harassment policy is for everyone. We must request the company HR not to cost the job. Some counselling sessions and some practice tests must be conducted for such grieving employees. In order to avoid illegal use of this policy, security cameras and recorded audios must be considered as an evidence. The team spirit has taken an ugly face these days. There must be continuous shuffling of team members from the very basic level to the top level. HR must increase their role in understanding people as well as they must try to come up with programs for healthy work environment. We all know how badly it impact a female or a male who has been victimized.
Swati
She should take it up with filing an FIR. She should also challenge the poor rating and investigation of complaints committee through a written complaint. I would also suggest that she brief her family about the details and have no fear of social backlash in any case...if she is not at fault she has no reason to back down and accept the situation without any fight...let the whole world know about this manager.
Sudha
If the HR or Management is not doing justice to such incidents then either bring it to the notice of media or go to the courts. They cannot terminate you for no fault of yours without giving you a chance to explain.
Kajal Dawda
Sometimes situation is not in our favour. Though we are right, we have suffer.Just give that manager a tight slap in front of whole staff and tell him that this one was not of fun. Embarass him in front of the company and beware other women staff about this man and then resign.There are many other companies waiting for you who respect woman.

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