Shreya Ukil, a former employee of Wipro, has sued the Indian IT giant in the UK over allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and unequal pay among others. She is demanding a compensation of £1million for the mental trauma caused by the company’s 'deeply predatory and misogynistic' work environment.
Ukil who lives in Kensington, West London, submitted her statement to the Central London Employment Tribunal on October 5.
Wipro has responded to the allegations calling them scurrilous and has said it will initiate legal action to defend itself against invidious and defamatory allegations.
The 39-year-old woman, who has a master’s degree from the University of Leeds, shifted to the UK from the company's Bengaluru headquarters in 2010. She was working as a sales executive for Wipro and resigned in September of 2014. However, her resignation was not accepted, and she was fired a week later.
Ukil has alleged that she had 'submitted to aggressive sexual advances' by Manoj Punja (54), her former married boss in the organisation and that she was "pressurised into a relationship" with him.
Wipro has responded to the allegation saying that ‘both Manoj Punja and Shreya Ukil were relieved from the services of the company after it was established beyond reasonable doubt that they had violated the stated policy’ of disclosing any such relationships to the company by withholding this information.
A Daily Mail report states that Ukil claims that though she discouraged his advances initially, Punja allegedly told her that she was 'forgetting who she was talking to'.
"I have no hesitation in explaining that the relationship arose purely because of the way in which he had pursued me. I can see clearly now that it was a complete abuse of his power and utterly manipulative," she told the website.
He even allegedly told Ukil that she was "like one of those seductive dancers from Indian mythology, Apsara, who tested the celibacy of the great saints”.
In 2013, The Telegraph reports that during a business trip to Stockholm, Punja allegedly told Ukil that her blouse was "too tight" for her as she had "big breasts".
On ending the affair and speaking up against the treatment meted out to her, Ukil said she was treated like "dirty goods".
Ukil has also accused her former team leader, who is also the company's sales manager for Europe, of bullying her and for discriminating against her. Ukil said that she earned £75,000 per annum, whereas her male colleagues made up to £160,000 a year.
Alleging that employees were encouraged to have fun during conferences, Ukil said, “Punja told me that he was having a lot of fun because the main events at sales conferences involved getting drunk, visiting strip clubs and attending some meetings.”
Ukil has said that Wipro has "a deeply predatory, misogynistic culture in which men are encouraged to have affairs, attend strip clubs, shout the loudest and support each other".
"Women," she added, "who are confident, capable and express their viewpoints are often called "emotional", "psychotic", or "menopausal". Women who support them are called 'lesbians'."
Wipro’s policy on conflict of interest requires employees to disclose to the organization any personal relationship that could create conflict. Failure to disclose such relationships would result in disciplinary action including and up to separation. Following an impartial inquiry, both Manoj Punja and Shreya Ukil were relieved from the services of the company after it was established beyond reasonable doubt that they had violated the stated policy.
Wipro takes serious objection to the scurrilous allegations made against the company and will initiate legal action to defend itself against insidious and defamatory allegations. The company has built its business over the years by ensuring it adheres to the highest standards of integrity, fairness, and ethical corporate practices. Any transgression of these beliefs and policies are dealt with expeditiously and with the strictest action. Our guiding principles have always been matters of the highest priority for our leadership and they have consistently set the tone from the top, through examples in action and thought.”
Wipro employs over 160,000 employees across the world and operates in around 58 countries.