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So what is sexual harassment under the act?

Remember, this is not exhaustive:

It can be in written form - letter, email, SMS

It can be visual - gestures, pornography

It can be physical - inappropriate touching, preventing your movement, stalking.

It also includes threats of downgrading your performance if the acts are not reciprocated/ accepted, preferential treatment if the act is accepted, humiliating treatment in the workplace, and creating a hostile work environment.

Sexual harassment is not looked at in isolation.

A text message with inappropriate content is not the only definitive indicator of harassment.

It can be different gestures, brought under the umbrella of making a woman feel violated, that leads to an unsafe workplace.

Let's look at the timelines under the Act

The time for the internal complaints committee to finish the investigation - 90 days

Time for the report to be submitted after the investigation is complete - 10 days

The employer is supposed to act on the recommendation of the committee within - 60 days

Time for the any appeal from the decision of the committee's conclusions - 90 days

There are cases of internal complaints committee hearings stretching on for years, in an attempt to frustrate the victim.

So it's important to know what the Act provides for in terms of timelines.

Important things to remember:

1. If you are the person who has complained, you are entitled to a copy of the report and a notice/ intimation about all the hearings.

If they haven't given you a copy of the report, insist upon the same.

2. If you want to lodge a police complaint, your employer should assist you with it, and not prevent you from filing one.

3. Your remedies under criminal law are not exhausted because you have complained under this Act. You can proceed through other routes as well.

There is also a provision for false complaints.

If the complaint is false or if false evidence has been provided, the committee will conduct another investigation in this regard, and hold the complainant guilty if the investigation reveals a false complaint has been made.

However, and very important to remember - not being able to offer sufficient evidence and mere inability to substantiate the complaint does not mean that the complaint is false

Don't be afraid that this will be used against you simply because you don't have enough evidence

General things to do/ look out for

- try to ensure all the communication with the ICC / employer regarding the complaint is in writing or through e-mail

- ask for the sexual harassment policy at your workplace, as well as names of the members of the ICC

I'll conclude this thread about the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the workplace Act with this.

This is the broad outline, and not exhaustive. I understand there will be different circumstances surrounding these complaints.

Let me know if you have any questions about this :)

Hope none of you are ever in a position where you have to use this, but if ever you are, I hope this helps you a little bit.

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