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Dentsu employee accuses agency of inaction on workplace harassment complaint

She has claimed that she has been a victim of verbal abuse, bullying and shaming at the agency.

By  Saumya TewariNov 19, 2022 12:46 PM
Dentsu employee accuses agency of inaction on workplace harassment complaint
The employee named Samvidha alleged that instead of supporting her with her rights, the HR department's advice was to use earned leaves and take a break. And if she needs more time off, she can use “unpaid leave option”. (Representational image via Unsplash)

An employee of the Indian arm of Japanese advertising agency Dentsu International on Thursday took to Twitter to complain about the ongoing workplace harassment. The female employee says that despite her complaint to the HR department at the agency against a “grave experience” that took place on 10 November no action has been taken so far. She has claimed that she has been a victim of verbal abuse, bullying and shaming at the agency.

The employee named Samvidha further adds that instead of supporting her with her rights, the HR department's advice was to use earned leaves and take a break. And if she needs more time off, she can use “unpaid leave option”.

“I have clearly shared that I refuse to work in the same team as the person. And yet, they have not started or initiated the process to protect me or changed my team. I need help!,” she tweeted.

“The incident occurred on 10th November. Today is 17th, no action has been taken against the individual. And they say haven’t shared any times-lines on the claimed “internal investigation” either. My bp continues to stay really low and this continues to take a toll on my health!,” she wrote.

Samvidha says that she has internally filed a report on 14 November but she did not receive any written acknowledgment until 16 November.

“As a victim of verbal abuse, bullying, shaming; their 0 written acknowledgment and further advice to use my earned leaves, & further their giving no clear timeline for “internal investigation”. Indicates that while they may have policy the practice lacks both empathy, awareness and compassion. Probing on timelines got me response “they take sometime”. Sometime Is a great timeline for someone on unpaid leaves! I deserve a psychologically safe work environment,” she tweeted.

Within hours of posting the tweet thread that has been retweeted 47 times, she has received multiple replies including from senior journalists advising her to file a POSH complaint with the company's IC (internal committee).

It is to be noted that The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 (also referred to as the “POSH Act”) came into existence in 2013. It has its foundations in the Vishaka Guidelines, and establishes a mechanism for dealing with sexual harassment complaints in the workplace.

Under the POSH Act, the person who can file a complaint has to be a woman, the POSH Act is not gender neutral. Any workplace with over 10 employees should have an Internal Committee (formerly known as the Internal Complaints Commitee), which will deal with sexual harassment complaint. When a complaint is filed, the Internal Committee (IC) will conduct an inquiry and forward their recommendations to the employer with respect to their finding of guilt or innocence, and the consequences of the same.

A complaint has to be given within three months of the act of harassment taking place. However, if the IC feels the person had a valid reason for filing the complaint at a later date, the same can be considered even after the expiry of the 3 month period. The Act, on the other hand, expressly states that if the complainant is unable to prove the claim or produce sufficient proof, no action will be taken.

Though, the act covers sexual harassment only.

As of 19 November, the tweets posted by Samvidha have been deleted. The complaint is being investigated by the agency. Dentsu International declined to comment on the development.

First Published on Nov 17, 2022 1:51 PM