Over five months after TNM first reported on a Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) employee from Chennai approaching the Labour Court seeking to set aside an allegedly botched sexual harassment enquiry, the woman has alleged that she has been transferred within the organisation without explanation. Two days after she appealed to the court alleging victimisation and discrimination, the company has now brought her back into her old project. The woman has sought an internal injunction from the court, directing TCS not to alter her service condition until the case is over. Activists have alleged that she is paying the price for dragging the IT industry giant to court over discrepancies in the conduct of an Internal Complaints Committee (IC) investigation.
In August last year, Revathi (name changed) approached the Labour Court in Kancheepuram stating that she was sexually harassed at an unscheduled, one-on-one appraisal meeting she was forced to attend last year by her Quality Manager in the United Kingdom. Despite a detailed complaint and evidence provided to substantiate her claims, she said that the IC investigation was carried out by TCS in a shoddy, unethical manner and had concluded that the sexual harassment could not be proven. Her petition before the courts asks for this report to be set aside and a fair re-investigation into her allegations.
Now, months after she first began the long and arduous court battle, the employee alleges she is facing the repercussions on the legal front as well as at work.
Performance appraisals show that Revathi has been a consistent performer receiving above average rankings and praise from her superiors over the years. However, according to court submissions accessed by TNM, on December 17, Revathi received an email telling her that she was being placed in a new project. The original project had been paused for a few days during the winter vacation period of the MNC and the employees were told no work was expected.
An interim injunction seeking to restrain TCS from transferring Revathi says, “It is respectfully stated that all the employees who were part of [the original project] are continuing in [the original project] and I am alone sent to [the new project]. The same amounts to selective discrimination with view to victimize me.”
The injunction also argues, “I respectfully state that placing me in [the new project] and asking me to find placement with the projects is an unfair treatment meted out to me. [TCS] has been victimizing me in view of me coming forward with the present Appeal challenging the enquiry and the final report of the ICC. When all the other employees who were part of [the original project] are retained in the [the original project], it is not fair to selectively discriminate me alone despite my best performance.”
Given that TCS conducts its appraisals based on performance between April to March, removing her from the project would also 'nullify' her performance from April to December, the employee argues.
Revathi’s court battle is among the first to be taken up in the country following the Me Too movement that saw many around the world and in India speaking up against their alleged harassers. Soon after TNM broke the news of Revathi’s complaint, social media reacted slamming the injustice reportedly done to her. Following this, the first court hearing in the case, for which this reporter was present, saw the manager accuse Revathi of having ‘organised’ a social media campaign.
Speaking to TNM, Parimala, President of the Forum for IT Employees says that a society will naturally react to injustice against a woman.
She says, “Everyone on the outside knows that this (transfer) is a punishment posting. It has to be exposed. If it's not spoken about, then they will just do as they please. They will be answerable if it comes out in the open. Their name is not getting damaged.”
She points out that Revathi would not have been forced to go to court if TCS had allowed her to appeal the findings of the IC internally.
TNM has reached out to TCS with questions and is yet to receive a response.