Unit 3: Complaints and Complaint Process
This third unit deals with the actual complaint process which is to be followed, if and when someone is sexually harassed (as per the conditions specified in the previous unit).
It deals with certain pertinent questions related to the complaint process, which are delineated as follows.
Who is protected by the act? The person who endures sexual harassment is termed as the ‘aggrieved woman’; and for a person to be classified as such, certain requirements must be met, which are specified clearly.
What is a workplace? While the question of “Who is an employer?” was discussed in the previous unit, this unit also briefly discusses the aspect of what exactly qualifies as a workplace, along with appropriate illustrations.
Who can file a complaint? This is a particularly interesting section, wherein the people who can file a sexual harassment complaint are enumerated as follows.
– Aggrieved woman
– Aggrieved woman with the assistance of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)
– Any legal heir or any such appointed person, on behalf of the aggrieved woman
When to file the complaint? The complaint is to be filed within three months of the occurrence of abuse. If the abuse involved a series of events, then three months is to be calculated from the last incident of abuse.I found this knowledge to be particularly interesting, as I always thought that one has to file such a complaint immediately.
What is the process of inquiry and investigation?
The process of inquiry and investigation of a sexual harassment case is clarified in a step wise manner, which I found very useful. It elaborated on the various steps which the ICC and the LCC (Local Complaints Committee) can take in a sexual harassment case.
1. Sometimes, ICC and LCC have powers equal to a civil court.
2. In certain cases,the ICC and LCC can initiate conciliation between aggrieved woman and respondent.
3. They can take interim action (for example providing leave)
4. Upon completion of inquiry, the ICC and LCC must file a report
5. ICC and LCC can punish false and malicious complaints
6. They can consider various factors while determining compensation to the aggrieved woman.
It is also the duty of employer to assist investigation, of a sexual harassment case pertaining to their organization.
The module includes as supplementary material the entire Sexual Harassment Act and the Rules related to the Act. It also includes two video lectures of about five minutes each, which help in summarizing the entire module in a short and crisp manner.
I found this module to be the most relevant and interesting one so far, as it was action oriented; as a female, it is important to know what are the steps to be taken in case I face sexual harassment at the workplace, and this module helped me in understanding that very clearly.
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