Sixteen years after the landmark court decision in Vishaka and others v. State of Rajasthan which required employers to set up processes to address sexual harassment, India has finally passed a law outlawing sexual harassment. The law, although taking huge steps in finally outlawing sexual harassment, has a long way to go before it provides full protections for men and women. Nisith Desai Associates has written a very informative article detailing the new responsibilities under the law.
It is interesting to us how, on the one hand, the law does not provide the level of protection that Title VII provides since it only prohibits sexual harassment against women, but on the other hand, it provides arguably greater protections. This is because the law sets forth very detailed complaint procedures that must be established by employers. For example, employers with more than 10 employees are required to set up a formal Internal Complaints Committee that follows a prescribed process, including a conciliation process and a direct right to appeal the determination as to whether to discipline the offending employee directly to court.
The law, unlike Title VII, also sets up an affirmative cause of action for an employee who is maliciously falsely accused of harassment, but does not seem to provide a cause of action by the victim for damages related to the harassment. It will be interesting to see how the case law develops interpreting this new law.