Breaking the Silence: Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Published On: 19th March, 2024

Authored By: Arati Manojrao Pachkhede
Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Nagpur


The right to have freedom of trade and profession is a fundamental right given by the Constitution of India, and with the fundamental right security and protection are also necessary to be given to the employees. The said article speaks about the harassment that took place at the workplace and the administration should be implemented accordingly. The objective of this article is to address sexual harassment in the workplace and the legal action should be taken accordingly for such acts and to provide protection to the female employees.


All the living beings need to do something for their livelihood. The Constitution of India grants the people of India, the right to trade, business, and profession for betterment. The people in India also enjoy their other rights and duties accordingly. And gender in the workplace plays an important role in performing their duties.

There are many workplaces that give equal rights to all the genders, but there are some other workplaces which does not have audacity to give equal chances to the employees. The discrimination should be done on the basis of every aspect such as gender, religion, etc. Not only discrimination but various illegal actions was done at workplace. And one of those is sexual harassment. The sexual harassment is one of such heinous action takes place in various workplaces.   

Sexual Harassment

Harassment is itself annoying word by which one can feels frustrate within itself. And sexual harassment is one step upper to that. It is conduct which makes a person feel offended and humiliated. The conduct involves sexual action includes unwanted comments and gesture which comes under the purview of sexual harassment. The sexual harassment can be happened with all the genders. But, the percentage of cases regarding sexual harassment with women are bit more than anyone else.  

Any sexually suggestive activity that compromises the dignity of both men and women, is deemed by the recipient as undesired, unpleasant, inappropriate, or offensive, and that fosters an intimidating, hostile, unstable, or offensive work environment is classified as “sexual harassment.” Sexual harassment known as “quid pro quo” (this for that) occurs when an employer, manager, supervisor, or coworker attempts to influence a current employee’s or job applicant’s hiring, promotion, training, discipline, dismissal, pay rise, or other benefit in exchange for sexual favors. Criminal activities that are under the Penal Code, such sexual assault and rape, are the worst kind of sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment at Workplace

Sexual Harassment includes unwelcome acts or behavior whether directly or by implication. And these actions are held in public and private places as well. And workplace is one of those public places where this unwelcome action took place. The action includes physical contact, demand for sexual favors, showing pornography or any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature. The actions might take place while training courses, conference and trips.

The Vishakha and Others V/S State of Rajasthan is a landmark case in the history of sexual harassment which is decided by the Supreme Court. BY this case, it is observed that the need of this act is necessity for the protection of women at the workplace. It is held that, “Sexual Harassment means an uninvited/unwelcome sexual favor or sexual gestures from one gender towards the other gender. It makes the person feel humiliated, offended and insulted to whom it is been done. It hampered the right to life and right to live a dignified life.”

And for such heinous act, there should be some laws or act which regulates these kinds of actions.

The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act) 2013 introduces for the purpose to regulate for such sexual harassment at workplace.

According to the this, Sexual Harassment defined as “Sexual Harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behavior (whether directly or implication) as:

  1. Physical contact and advances
  2. A demand or request for sexual favor
  3. Sexually colored remarks
  4. Showing pornography
  5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

The workplace according the Act is defined as “workplace includes,

  1. any department, organization, undertaking, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit which is established, owned, controlled or wholly or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the appropriate government or the local authority or a government company or a corporation or a co-operative society,
  2. any private sector organization of a private venture, undertaking, enterprise, institution, establishment, society, trust, non-governmental organization, unit or service provider carrying on commercial, professional, vocational, educational, entertainmental, industrial, health services or financial activities including production, supply, sale, distribution or service
  3. hospitals or nursing homes
  4. any sports institute, stadium, sports compels or competition or games venue, whether residential or not used for training, sports or other activities relating thereto
  5. any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment including by the employee for undertaking such journey
  6. a dwelling place or house”

Both sexual harassment and workplace describes by the Act, helps to describes that the action should be controlled and protection should be granted to the employees who works there. The acts provide the security for the women mostly. The actions of sexual harassment take place by giving threat about the present or future status, or humiliating treatment which affects their mental health and it also includes the promise of preferential treatment in the employment.

The Presiding officer is the one who files complaint against such cases and take proper actions accordingly. It is not necessary that, the aggrieved person should file the complaint. The third party can also file the complaint to these presiding officers.

Various committees are there for the administrating and regulating the said act. There are various challenges for fulfilling the same. In various places the filing of such type of complaints is big risk for the aggrieved person with her family. The future of such aggrieved person is depending on the result of such cases. The person who indulges into the such heinous action can create threat to the lie of aggrieved person and their family. It is necessary to provide proper protection to both the aggrieved person and her family. And it is necessary to protect the family also.

For given protection it is necessary to regulate the action of the employer also. The act provides the provision to impose duties to employer for the protection and security of the employees who work under the employer. The safety measure should be taken place accordingly by providing a safe atmosphere to the female employee in which she can be feel comfortable working into the such place. The legal actions should be provided by the employer, if such type of sexual harassment takes place in their workplace. The awareness and orientation programmes should be they’re for such kinds of actions. The reports should be prepared for the proper administrating of the office norms and actions should be there is possible.

The punishments should be given to the offender by reprimanding or firing them from their jobs. The compensation should be paid to the aggrieved person and his family for the damages and with proper procedure legal actions should be awarded to them accordingly.

Anti harassment policies should be provides to set out the detailed mechanism for those who file complaints when sexual harassment occur against the offender.


The administration and implementation of such act is necessity in today’s world. The action should be controlled and regulation should be necessary for such actions. With the implementation of such act, it is necessary to change the thoughts towards the working women and restrict others to stop such sexual harassment towards the women. Various different ways should be find out to protect the subject matter of the work. With the administration and implementation of the act, it is necessary to promote the gender equality and provide the safe atmosphere to all the employees who works in the society.


  1. Case Analysis: Vishakha VS State of Rajasthan available at
  2. A brief of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act available at
  3. The Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
  4. Addressing Sexual Harassment at Workplace available at
  5. Ways to address Sexual Harassment available at
  6. Workplace sexual harassment – advice for workers available at
  7. Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment at the workplace available at—asia/—ro-bangkok/—ilo-hanoi/documents/publication/wcms_421220.pdf
  8. Addressing Sexual Harassment available at
  9. Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment available at
  10. 13 Ways to Protect the Employees for Sexual Harassment at workplace available at

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