In March 2018, Revathi (name changed), an employee of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) who was working on-site in the United Kingdom, was allegedly sexually harassed by her manager at the workplace. An Internal Committee (IC) investigation carried out by the company based on her complaint had found that sexual harassment ‘could not be proven’. Revathi says this was despite evidence — including chats and office records — submitted by her. Revathi took the corporate giant to the Labour Court in Kancheepuram where, after over two years, the case is still ongoing.
Riding on the support of the MeToo movement that exploded in India around the time, Revathi’s case became among the first ones to reach a court. TNM has reported earlier on the arduous process she has been undergoing in fighting her case. However, the pandemic has only amplified existing issues with the case — fewer and shorter hearings, lack of support from activists who are unable to be present in court at short notice and juggling a case against the company where she continues to work, among others. And the COVID-19 situation has brought new problems with it. Revathi, an only child, takes care of her elderly parents while working from home.
According to activists helping Revathi fight the legal battle, TCS has not sent the employee — who has been with the company for many years — on paid leave during IC proceedings as well as the court proceedings. When Revathi and her mother experienced COVID symptoms a few weeks ago and she attempted to obtain leave, she was reportedly asked a number of questions including the submission of proof for leave she had earned.
“We are surprised to see this behaviour. Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Act provides three months of paid leave in addition to her existing leave for the victim,” as per tech unionists supporting her case.
In addition to the pandemic bringing to a halt any progress on hearings in the case, Revathi's ordeal continued as there was no judge posted to the Labour Court in Kancheepuram for weeks. Further, given the small size of the court, details of case `hearings and judges are not found online regularly, making it a nightmare for the survivor to schedule time away from work in advance.
Recently, the All India Forum for IT/ITES Employees wrote to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to fast track the case.
“We also urge TCS to provide financial compensation for the expenses incurred during court battle (The victim could have avoided a court appeal had TCS taken up her internal appeal) and also provide adequate paid leave to victim considering that she has taken a great hit on her personal front owing to the incident, ICC and court proceeding. The victim never had time for herself since she also had to perform well in her project assignments apart from her struggle for justice.” Vinod AJ, General Secretary, FITE wrote in a letter to CM Edappadi Palaniswami.
The next hearing in the case has been posted to November 30.
TCS told TNM that it will not be able to comment on the matter as it is sub judice.