The Act recognizes that sexual harassment constitutes a violation of fundamental rights of women and their right to life and to live with dignity and carry on any profession, trade, or business in an environment free from sexual harassment. POSH Law affects all of India and is not gender neutral — it only protects women. A man who is a victim of sexual harassment at the workplace is not entitled to invoke POSH Law, rather he must rely on company policies that prohibit harassment of any nature. However, many organizations have opted to make their POSH policy gender neutral in order to ensure an equal representation of the workforce. POSH Law applies to both organized and unorganized sectors.
This article has primarily focused on the Internal Committee (IC); however, there is also a provision in the POSH Law for the constitution and empowerment of the Local Committee (LC). The LC is only invoked when a workplace has fewer than 10 personnel and a complaint needs adjudication or the complaint is against the employer itself. Given most organizations have 10 or more personnel and the complaints are often between employees themselves, the IC and its role and function is the focus of this article.
The Act defines “sexual harassment” expansively and includes the ensuing unwelcome acts:
The Act also states that the following circumstances (whether implied or explicit), inter alia, may constitute sexual harassment: