IHCL to decide future action in sexual harassment case based on committee's findings

Ousted Tata Sons Chairman, Cyrus Mistry arrives for the Tata Chemicals board meeting at Bombay House in Mumbai
The Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) board will decide on the next steps on the basis of the committee's findings in the alleged sexual harassment of a female employee by a senior company official.

A statement from Cyrus Mistry's office said the employee referred to did approach Mistry and informed him she had experienced unwelcome behaviour by a senior Indian Hotels Company Ltd employee. His office added that Mistry was very upset as this was absolutely against his belief of a safe work environment and he also set aside time to meet with her and assured her that the Tata Group stands fully committed to support her.

According to a report in the Economic Times, in November 2015, a Taj employee had written to Cyrus Mistry about her decision to leave the company and had alleged sexual harassment by CEO Rakesh Sarna.

As an immediate action, with her concurrence, Mistry initiated an interim measure of providing an appropriate short-term alternate and safe work environment until the matter could be investigated and appropriately addressed. Further, Mistry's office said that the Group HR Head was directed to create an appropriate interim position. An interim senior role, directly reporting to a Group Executive Council member in the Corporate Communications team was identified. 

Despite Tata Sons and IHCL having different grades and designation structures, the statement said that care was taken to ensure that her current emoluments were protected. However, Mistry's office said that despite several attempts to retain her, she decided not to accept the position and instead wished to pursue a career outside of Tatas.

Later, on Mistry's instructions, she was informed that this matter was being taken very seriously and a thorough enquiry would be undertaken. At her request to put the issue behind her, an enquiry was not set up at that point in time.

However, since this was serious allegation and potentially a violation of the Tata Code of Conduct, the statement said that Mistry decided to institute a committee to investigate into the matter. This committee was constituted by a senior independent director of IHCL to ensure that appropriate processes are followed. The Committee also included very senior people independent of the company. "The report is awaited and the board of IHCL will decide on next steps on the basis of the Committee's findings," said Mistry's office.

Post this, Mistry also instructed a review of the implementation of POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) policy and practices across Tata Group companies. Representatives from various Tata companies, the Group Ethics Office, Group Legal and Group HR were also included in this exercise to ensure the highest standards and values are protected, including providing a safe work environment for all Tata Group employees.

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