A former employee of the India today group Rukmini Sen has accused her male boss Supriya Prasad of ‘verbal sexism of the worst order which included sexist jokes, insults and outbursts’ during 2013-14.
Sen said that she filed a complaint with the management, but the India Today group did not follow due process. The management formed a sexual harassment committee but did not have the mandatory external member. So Sen refused to depose before it. A year and half after filing the complaint the ‘fake committee’ found Prasad not-guilty, she says in her detailed Facebook post which can be read here.
The India Today group also a statement presenting their side of the story, after Sen’s post became public. It said:
We have noted the complaint of Ms. Rukmini Sen, which she has voluntarily shared in the public domain. We wish to place certain facts on record:
- Ms. Rukmini Sen was employed with TV Today Network from December 27, 2000 to March 24, 2004 and again from June 27, 2007 to November 6, 2012. Her last assignment was Editor Entertainment in our Mumbai office.
- She resigned from services on November 3, 2012, citing that she “is not fit for the job any more” and would like to do “more serious and meaningful stuff”. Her resignation was accepted the same day.
- After her resignation, she had an exit conversation on the afternoon of November 5, 2012, in an open conference room in the office, with her Head of Department, Mr. Supriya Prasad, who was travelling to Mumbai for the ITA Awards.
- After the exit conversation with Mr. Prasad, Ms. Sen joined the internal Mumbai team celebration of the ITA awards within the office.
- On November 5 th night, Ms. Rukmini Sen sent an email to Mr. Aroon Purie complaining that the exit conversation with Mr. Supriya Prasad was “offensive and humiliating”. A reminder was sent by her on November 6th.
- Mr. Aroon Purie responded on November 7, 2012, saying that he would ask the HR Department to look in to her complaint.
- A complete investigation was jointly carried out by the TV Today Network’s Legal and HR team. Mr. Supriya Prasad was asked to submit a statement of explanation. Formal statements of all present in the Mumbai Office were recorded.
- The matter was, subsequently, referred to the Internal Complaints Committee of TV Today Network. All of Ms. Sen’s requests regarding Committee constitution, including changing a member, were accepted and Ms. Sen was duly informed. The Committee had 5 members, including an external member. It had 3 female members. The process carried out for Ms. Sen, was in accordance with The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013.
- The Committee was convened in Mumbai 3 times between November 2013 and January 2014, with sufficient notice to Ms. Sen.
- The Committee examined Ms. Sen’s complaint and Mr. Prasad’s explanation. Evidence from the internal investigation (i.e. statements from others) was also reviewed.
- Eight notices to appear before the Internal Complaints Committee were sent to Ms. Sen.
- Mr. Supriya Prasad appeared before the Committee. However, Ms. Sen chose to be absent on all occasions.
- Ultimately, the Committee’s final order, passed on January 14, 2014, was, “after carefully perusing the material on record i.e. the complaint of the Complainant, and the statement of Mr. Supriya Prasad, it is opined that the Complainant has failed to substantiate her allegations, and no act of sexual harassment has been made out from the records. In view of the aforesaid finding, the complaint is hereby dismissed.”
- After each Committee meeting, a written record was sent to both Ms. Sen and Mr. Prasad. The final order was also sent to both individuals.
- Ms. Sen’s complaint was closed.
In light of the above facts, we strongly believe that the India Today Group did everything possible to pursue and address the issue. In putting out a one-sided version on social media and misrepresenting facts, we think Ms. Sen is being unfairly malicious towards the Group. Towards this, we are considering appropriate legal action.
With women comprising a substantial portion of the India Today Group, its high performers and decision makers, we are happy that our affirmative stance promotes diversity and the competence of our female talent. We remain committed to providing security and support to all our female colleagues. We strive to continuously undertake initiatives to remain an employer of choice for all, and women in particular.
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