IHCL confirms it had set up independent panel in July to look into charges
New Delhi : Tata Group hospitality arm Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) had set up an independent committee in July to inquire into allegations of sexual harassment by an ex-employee against its CEO Rakesh Sarna.
“The company has a strict code of conduct under which an independent committee has been set up to inquire into an issue received from an ex-employee,” an IHCL spokesperson said in an email response.
Given the sensitivity of the matter and obligations to keep the matter confidential, no further details can be shared, the spokesperson added.
A former employee in an emailed letter had alleged sexual harassment by Sarna during her employment at Taj. Last year, after the employee complained to Mistry, she was moved to Tata Sons before she finally quit the group.
Sarna is one of the high-profile appointments
made by Mistry from outside the Tata group when he was the Chairman of Tata Sons.
When contacted for comments, Cyrus Mistry’s Office said in a statement: “The employee referred to did approach Mr Mistry and informed him that she had experienced unwelcome behaviour by a senior Indian Hotels Company Ltd employee. Mr Mistry was very upset as this was absolutely against his belief of a safe work environment.”
As an immediate action, “with her concurrence, Mr 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,” the statement said.
Mistry set aside time to meet with her and assured her that the Tata Group stands fully committed to support her, it said, adding that despite several attempts to retain her, she decided not to accept the position and instead wished to pursue a career outside of Tatas.
“However, since this was a serious allegation and potentially a violation of the Tata Code of Conduct, Mr Mistry decided to institute a committee to investigate into the matter,” said the statement from Mistry’s office.
The committee, set up in July, was constituted by a senior independent director of IHCL to ensure that appropriate processes are followed. It 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, it said.
“After this, Mr Mistry also instructed a review of the implementation of POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) policy and practices across Tata Group companies,” the statement said.
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