By Anuradha Gandhi and Rachita Thakur
In November 2019, Mr. Brajesh Narain Singh, IAS, District Magistrate, Gautam Buddha Nagar issued a notice  mandating all the companies of the district of Noida, Uttar Pradesh to form the Internal Complaints Committee and upload the Annual Report on the Sexual Harassment Online Redressal (S.H.O.R) website/app. The said app has been developed exclusively for the district Administration, Gautam Buddh Nagar.
Following the footsteps of the District Magistrate of Noida, the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Gurugram, Mr. Vishram Kumar Meena, IAS on December 13, 2022 issued a ‘POSH Act Compliance Checklist (Comprehensive)’ to all the Non-government Organisations requiring their urgent attention towards forming an Internal Complaints Committee as mandated by the POSH Act.
Similarly, in consonance with the aforementioned notifications the district of New Delhi has also issued an urgent notice dated January 13, 2023 to all the companies to form an Internal Complaints Committee. Furthermore, the Internal Complaints Committees of all the organizations have been directed to upload the signed copy of the Annual Report on the link provided thereunder.
In view of the foregoing, it is important to understand that the POSH Act entails within itself certain compliances that include drafting of a POSH Policy, constitution of ICC, conducting employee awareness programs along with sensitisation trainings for the members of the ICC to name a few. Section 21 of the POSH Act provides that the ICCs are further required to prepare an annual report containing the number of complaints received, number of complaints disposed off and number of complaints that are pending with the organisation to the District Officer of the District.
Further, the District Officer has the power to call for any records regarding POSH compliances.
Penalties for non-compliance under the POSH Act
Non-compliance with the provisions of the POSH Act can invite penalties amounting to Rs. 50,000/- for the employers. The Act also gives the right to the aggrieved woman to file a police complaint. The Act further provides for cancellation of licenses for continued breach of the provisions of thereof.
Brand Value and Reputation
The loss of brand value and reputation as an aftermath of a POSH complaint is higher than any qualified monetary loss. The brand is just occupied in fire-fighting trying to save the brand reputation.
A classic example of loss of brand value and reputation can be taken is of the Allegations of sexual harassment that were leveled against the Co-founder and CEO of ScoopWhoop by a former employee. The controversy had a rattling effect and stirred the debate around the mandatory compliances under the POSH Act and how far the company has complied with them, thereby increasing the density of damage caused to the brand image.
A similar instance is that of the Uber sexual Harassment case that led to resignation of its CEO Travis Kalanick. The case attracted much public attention due to a blogpost published by a former engineer, Susan Fowler wrote about her experiences of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at Uber. The news spread like a wild fire and caused some serious repercussions in terms of loss of brand image and reputation of Uber.
Such situations and instances are capable enough to not only institute the appropriate proceedings against the respondent but also have a considerable impact on the brand image that a company enjoys in public domain.