India leads the way on harassment legislation

May 15 2008 by Derek Torres Print This Article

Last week, I came across an article on a recent Indian High Court verdict, which ruled that sexual harassment in the workplace doesn't necessarily have to happen in the workplace. You can read more about it too here.

Unlike most articles that I come across, this one really required a good think. I mean after all, when one thinks about such crimes, the workplace is usually the venue. But then I saw the light.

The HC really got this one right. In fact, it's almost silly to assume that sexual harassment has to occur in the workplace. Does that presume that any additional advances that occur outside the office place then become welcome? What happens if the offender follows the victim after work to a restaurant or their home? Certainly the harassment that ensues would have an effect on their professional relationship.

Fortunately, the law in India seems to agree with me on this. At the same time, I wonder if such a ruling would also apply to moral harassment or any other workplace ills.

What particularly surprised me (compared to the US) is that sexual harassment extends to any woman in the workplace, not just a subordinate. Taking it a step further, I wonder if legally a man can be harassed or if it also applies to same-sex harassment or transgender, etc.

While one ruling won't eradicate a huge workplace problem worldwide, it will hopefully give pause to those who are prone to such sort of misbehavior.