Under Fire, NIFT Hyderabad Reinstates 56 Housekeepers Who Had Filed Sexual Harassment Complaints

Facing criticism from several quarters, NIFT withdrew its earlier decision to terminate their services

National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hyderabad has reinstated 56 female housekeeping workers, who were reportedly sacked after they complained of sexual harassment by a male employee. Facing criticism from several quarters, NIFT withdrew its earlier decision to terminate their services and have asked the women employees to resume their work. However, according to news agency IANS, the contract is ending by June end, the management has reportedly asked the manpower agency to recruit new employees in place of the existing ones.

What happened

The case dates back to October, 2018 when the supervisor lodged a sexual harassment complaint against D Srinivas Reddy, a stenographer with the institution, who is believed to be close to director V. Shivlingam. Srinivas Reddy allegedly subjected four female workers to sexual harassment. The matter was also reported to the police but it waited for the internal committee to examine the case and take action, according to Bangalore Mirror.

“Srinivas used to sexually harass women employees who would attend to his cabin. He would hold the women staff by their hips, click their photographs without consent, and invite them home to sleep with him,” K Ratna Kumari, supervisor of the house keeping staff who also led the agitation, told The News Minute.

She alleged that he had no fear and would openly ask her to send “young and pretty women” to his cabin.

With the internal committee’s report not being made public and police also not taking action, a section of housekeeping workers on Monday staged a protest at Madhapur police station.

The same day, NIFT terminated the services of all outsourced workers by ending the contract with the manpower agency. After it drew flak for its decision, the management cancelled the termination and asked them to resume work.

Why should it matter to you?

Over the years, Sexual harassment at workplace has emerged as a serious problem across the globe. The victims, mostly  women employees, bear the brunt of verbal, physical, or visual harassment at workplace.

According to a study conducted by Pink Ladder, a career enhancement company for women professionals, 56% women believe sexual harassment at the workplace has increased over the years, and 53% women have been subject to sexual comments, gestures, jokes at the workplace, finds a new survey. The research was carried out across 200 women from 80 organisations across Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi.

According to the study, close to 80% women are aware of policies against sexual harassment at the workplace, but almost 30% women still hesitate to complain to the internal committee about such incidents.