SELF HELP RESOURCE - Work / Workplace Relationships


This law defines Sexual harassment broadly as unwelcome physical contact and making "sexually colored" remarks and includes any behavior that interferes with a woman's work, creates an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment for her. Given this broad definition, it is not surprising that sexual harassment comes in many forms. Every employee has a responsibility towards making the work place safe from Sexual Harassment.

The following are all examples of sexual harassment as well as measures you can take to handle such occurrences:

Sunita walked up to her colleague's work station and was shocked to see a seminude photograph of a well known super model on his desk. When she raised objection to his displaying the offensive picture, her co worker turned around and told her it was his personal space and he could do what he wanted .

  • Have nothing off color or sexual in nature posted anywhere in an office environment.
  • Remember it does not matter whether it is objectionable to you or not, as long as it is considered objectionable by others it constitutes Sexual Harassment.

Meenakshi was working late to complete a report, Ramesh her collegue came up to her and asked her out to dinner. She refused, but he persisted day after day telling her not to worry it was what every body did in big cities. Meenakshi felt very harassed but did not know how to deal with it as he had not done any thing offensive.

  •  If you ask a co worker for a date and are told "No" do not ask repeatedly again. Take No as No. 
  •  No one should be made to feel uncomfortable at work if your behavior is bothering someone else stop that behavior. Like wise if your co workers behavior is bothering you address the problem with the concerned co worker or report it to the internal complaints committee of your organization.

Sharad is fond of collecting jokes from the internet and circulating among friends, some jokes are off colour and politically incorrect. Barring a few colleagues most seem to enjoy his jokes

  • Just because you don't mind a particular behavior doesn't mean others won't. What isn't offensive to one , may be to another
  • What one intends by a statement or action does not determine sexual harrassment. It is the person's perception towards who it is directed at, is the determining factor. 

Navin is a very friendly person who loves to hug his friends and slap their backs and generally likes to touch people while conversing. After returning from a vacation he met Latha from his office waiting for the lift and in his usual style, to greet her he gave her a hug. Latha was very offended, however Navin could not understand why such a fuss over a friendly gesture.

  • Regarding physical contact - it is each one of our responsibility to acknowledge and respect the other persons wishes regarding physical contact.
  • If someone indicates they are not comfortable with a hug or any other physical contact respect their wishes.

Neerja and Pradeep are coworkers on a team of 7,of which 3 are female Savita,,Neerja and Sonal. They find that the team lead is particularly favourable towards Savita and overlooks her faults, they seem to laugh and joke a lot and at the slightest pretext sit close to each other. The other team members also are uncomfortable with their over friendly behavior.

  • If you feel there is favoritism in your department, discuss this with your manager. Your manager may not be aware how his or her actions are being perceived.
  • Be aware of how your workplace friendships may be perceived and affect other co workers.

Sriyukta wears a revealing dress to work one of her male colleagues tells her she is looking "Hot and Sexy ". She accepts the compliment very happily but other employees are uncomfortable with the vocabulary being used.

  • Anything of a sexual nature is not appropriate in the workplace even if it is welcomed by the receiver.
  • As an employee you have a responsibility to dress and act professionally and be conscious not to encourage sexual responses from others at workplace.

Can giving compliments to the opposite sex constitute Sexual Harassment

  • Giving Compliments isn't generally Sexual Harassment, but Sexual Harassment is a matter of perception. If the recipient of a comment feels uncomfortable the action should stop.

 Amita‘s Supervisor is attracted to her and tells her that. She is uncomfortable by his remarks but doesn't want to offend her boss or create problems for herself at work

  • If you have any kind of authority over others in your work place you should be careful how you interact with employees.
  • Job related results and performance are the only acceptable expectations an employer can impose. As an employee, if you are not happy with the level of professionalism, it is in your control to state your boundaries and personal discomfort to your superiors or even report your supervisors behaviour to the management.

Remember Sexual Harassment is illegal and it is our responsibility to end sexual harassment at our work place.

If you observe or experience this kind of harassment, do enquire about your company's sexual harassment redressal procedures and the availability of a grievance cell. In case they are not sure what to do, or are unsure if some behaviour can be considered harassment or not, or want to know how you can establish clearer boundaries, you can contact our panel of counsellors and discuss this issue confidentiality


Latest Comments

yogendrabmishra on 28 Aug 2017, 16:22 PM

What happens if your colleague complaint falsely and still your company does not support you? what can be done in this case? I believe you should also include such scenarios here because we all live in female support society and even in work culture. Looking forward for your response.