Harassment by employer: what actions can you take?

Definition of Harassment :

Harassment encompasses all types of offensive behavior which is intended to upset or show disgrace to another individual. Any behavior of a person, a group of people, colleagues, neighbors and even the boss or supervisor are also included in harassment and these are all punishable offense. In India there are several strict bullying in the workplace laws and regulations levied by the legal system. These laws are supposed to address all types of workplace harassment including discrimination, sexual nuisance and psychological irritation caused by the employer.

When kids bully each other in the school, they are blamed for misconduct and punished mercilessly. However some adults too have the same habits of bullying their colleagues and sub-ordinates and for this they barely get the same punishments. There is no one to throw an abusive and rude employer out of the office because he growls at his employees in the most ghastly manner and makes them work till their last breath (obviously after regular working hours). As a matter of fact, many employers start considering themselves the GOD of the office who can act according to his own whims and fancies towards his/her employees.

Discrimination at workplace

Discrimination at workplace is possibly the commonest form of harassment that most office goers have suffered at least once in their professional life. Discrimination can be made on the basis of complexion, religion, age, gender and origin. Mostly women suffer from sexual harassment which can be as fatal as affecting their physical and psychological health. Harassment now takes a big leap away from just the sexual type which is strictly for women. Harassment at workplace could mean abusive behaviour by employee intending to disgrace and upset an individual. This individual could be both male and female. Any upsetting behaviour by colleagues, neighbours, a group of people, supervisor, employee or the boss is all considered to be harassment. The laws are supposed to address all types of workplace harassment which includes discrimination or psychological irritation that is caused by the employer. In these terms the laws are same for men as well as women.

Furthermore, the laws that allow you to report any discrimination in regards to gender, age, complexion, religion, and caste also takes a step further. If your employee is not releasing your documents, no providing offer letter or the confirmation letter, or is not giving you salary slip, or even not paying your salary , then you have all the rights to report such a case.

Following are some common example of workplace harassment:

  • Dispersion of malevolent and untrue rumors, scandal or innuendo at the workplace.
  • Isolating an individual socially and professionally in the office.
  • Threatening a person or dominating him/her unfairly.
  • Deliberately discouraging one or hindering his/her job.
  • Physical abuse or intimidating someone with abusive languages.
  • Eliminating one from his roles and responsibilities without any reason.
  • Altering instructions and guidelines constantly.
  • Imposing unrealistic deadlines intentionally to make an individual fail.
  • Holding back important information or tenaciously providing wrong information.
  • Cracking offensive jokes verbally or in written, especially in front of or about female colleagues.
  • Sneaking into someone’s personal life, spying or pestering him/her.
  • Causing unnecessary pressure on a particular person by assigning heavy workload when others are free.
  • Making on sit idle without any work which is also a way to create mental pressure on a worker. Often companies take this way to make their employees surrender for voluntary retirement schemes.
  • Screaming or showing vulgarity to an employee.
  • Intentionally and unreasonably criticizing an individual on regular basis.
  • Ridiculing one’s opinions.
  • Unjustifiable punishment for trifles.
  • Holding back deserved leaves, promotions and training. blocking applications for training, leave or promotion
  • Meddling with one’s personal belongings behind his/her back.

Actions that you can take against Harassment:

When any of the above happens to an individual, it indicates that he/she is falling prey to employee harassment. Be it the employer or co-workers, there are legal terms via which the offenders can be punished.

Indian constitution guarantees gender, racial and religious equality as the ‘Fundamental Right’ of the residents of the country in Part III, Articles- 14, 15, 16 which implies for the workplace as well. Hence one faces discrimination by the employer because of his/her race, complexion, gender, caste or origin; he/she can immediately seek legal advice by consulting with a lawyer.  The ‘Directive Principles of State Policies’ of Part IV encompasses the cultural and socio-economic rights of Indian citizens.

Women suffering sexual harassment:

They could seek help from the law as well as report to women’s rights organization. Human Rights Commission of India can also help in such cases. If the employer breaches a contract signed between the employer and the employee and terminates one without notice, the defender can file lawsuit against the company.

But till the time, employees and workers do not become aware of their fundamental employee rights, it is almost impossible for the law and order system to protect them from the offensive employer activities. Also the workers of any company, factory or organization should have mutual integrity which will help them fight such issues more effectively.


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  • Ganesh Dagwar

    I want detailed information and complete procedure on above mentioned topic
    Thank you

  • Usha

    I am from Mumbai. I completed my diploma in interior Designing but i have 8years experience in architure field. I am working in Cad center Institute last 1-1/2 month because i dnt get the job in my field last 8 mnths. That tm my salary was 20,000/- & nw i got d only 8000/- But i dnt get the full amt of 8000/- in hand. cause 200/- tax cut then even i am working 9 hrs 11.30 to 8.30 here. my job location is to far from my home. 2 n Half hrs tm spend for reching office daily. then when i am leaving 8.30 i reach 11.00 clock in my home.
    but when i reach half hr late so in my salary cutting the charges.and now the owner of institute thinking to close this branch. but still they are not informing us. So I want to know if they certainly told us you all are dnt come in office, then what will we do? or what is our employee rights. Please help us.
    And 1 more thing (The basic 8000/- Salary is not enough for middle class employee.)


  • sandeepkbose

    Hi My self sandeep and i am working with an NGO from last 7 Years as an Accounts Officer. Recently join a Director finance in my NGO. he had no knowledge & he came after retirement from Goverment of india. one of my colleague who is always against me try to be close to him & start bitching against me. he tried to buttering what ever my boss said he appreciates. now he recruits new accountant & abolish my post and demote me as office assistant. when i tried to talk with him he said you have done lots of mistakes so i remove you. but never show me the documents when i asked for it. even i tried to talk with higher level management but they refuse to here anything against him. now day by day he is insulting me. my job is contractual & it expired on 2016. even he said verbally i m a potential fraud. he tried to hide my colleague’s mistakes but a simple mistake of mine keep like a evidence.what i suppose to do according to indian law.

    • shiraz

      I really feel bad about you sandeep. It’s a shame for this country that we don’t have any legal forum wherein we can approach for such cases. This country talks big about development but have no source formed through which we can get help in the exhausting situations like you. All you can do is to be bold- find another job as a back up & write everything to your seniors and HR from extreme top level to your reporting that despite approaching everyone for what you are going through, no action has been taken, hence you will be sending a notice to company & seniors official & will slap a case of harassment. This will make them run from their seat.