How to Complaint against Sexual Harassment at Workplace?

January 18th, 201810:19 pm @    


The legislative intention behind enacting The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 was to acknowledge and ensure women’s right to workplace equality, through compliance with three elements- prevention, prohibition and redressal.

This article explains in detail the process of filing of complaint of Sexual Harassment at workplace.

(If you also wish to know the redressal process, please follow this link – How to resolve complaints of sexual harassment in workplace)

Who can complain?

The complainant (a woman employee) can lodge a complaint with the Complaints Committee i.e., either the Internal Complaint Committee (constituted at every workplace employing 10 or more employees) or the Local Complaint Committee (where there are less than 10 employees), with the support of the Nodal Officer. (Meaning of Internal Complaints Committee, Local Complaint Committee and Nodal Officer have been explained later in this article.)

In case the Complainant is physically incapable, then on her behalf the following people can file a complaint:

  • Complainant’s relative
  • Complainant’s friend
  • Co worker
  • Officer of National Commission for Women or State Commission for Women
  • Any person who has knowledge of the incident with the written consent of the complaint.

In case the Complainant is mentally incapable, then on her behalf the following people can file a complaint:

  • Complainant’s relative
  • Complainant’s friend
  • Special educator
  • Qualified psychiatrist/psychologist
  • Guardian/authority under whose care the complainant is receiving treatment or care
  • Any person with knowledge of the incident
  • In case of complainant’s death: Any person having knowledge of the incident with the written consent of the legal heir.
  • In case the complainant is unable to file complaint for any other reason then it can be filed by any person who has knowledge of the incident with her written consent.

What are the details required in the Complaint against sexual harassment?

The written complaint should contain:

  • Description of incident(s)
  • Relevant dates, timings and locations
  • Name of the respondent(s)
  • Working relationship between the parties

If the complainant seeks some assistance in writing the complaint, a person designated to manage the workplace sexual harassment complaint must provide such assistance.

Complaints Committee

There are two kinds of complaint mechanisms for addressing complaints on sexual harassment in workplace:

  • Internal Complaint Committee (ICC)
  • Local Complaint Committee (LCC)

In both these committees at least one half of the total members nominated shall be women and the members shall hold their position for not more than 3 years from the date of their nomination or appointment.

Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)

Every workplace employing 10 or more employees must constitute an Internal Complaint Committee. The composition of ICC is:

  • A Presiding Officer from amongst a woman employed at a senior level at the workplace. If not available, then nominated from other office/units/department/workplace of the same employer.
  • At least 2 members nominated from amongst the employees committed to the cause of women or having legal knowledge or having experience in social work.
  • A member nominated from an NGO or Association committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with the issue of Sexual Harassment.

Local Complaints Committee (LCC)

The District Officer shall constitute an LCC in every district and shall receive complaints from:

  • Women working in an organization having less than 10 workers
  • When the complaint is against the employer himself
  • From domestic workers.

The composition of LCC is:

  • A Chairperson nominated from amongst eminent women in the field of social work and committed to the cause of women.
  • A member nominated from amongst women working in the block/taluka/tehsil/ward/municipality in the district.
  • 2 members nominated from NGO/association/persons committed to the cause of women or familiar with the issues relating to Sexual Harassment. Provided, at least one must be a woman and one of them must have legal knowledge.
  • Ex officio member shall be an officer dealing with social welfare or women and child development in the district.

Who is a Nodal Officer?

  • The State Government may notify a District Magistrate/Additional District Magistrate/Collector/Deputy Collector as a District Officer for every District. The District Officer shall:
  • Monitor timely submission of reports by the Local Committee.
  • Engage NGO’s to create awareness on sexual harassment and rights of women.
  • The District Officer shall designate a person as Nodal Officer in every block/taluka/tehsil in rural or tribal areas and wards or municipalities in urban areas, to receive complaints. The Nodal Officer shall forward all such complaints within 7 days of its receipt to the concerned Complaints Committee for appropriate action.

In order to understand the whole process of how a sexual harassment committee is supposed to react/address a sexual harassment complaint, follow this link – How to resolve a Sexual harassment Complaint at Workplace.

Article by

Anasuya is pursuing LL.M from Faculty of Law, Delhi University and intends to enter academics. Writing is something that she has always cherished and a medium through which she believes that one can communicate and reach out, especially in law which is such a complex, dynamic and multifaceted subject.

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