A sacked woman techie has sued IT major Wipro Ltd. in a British court, seeking one million pounds (Rs.10 crore) compensation for gender discrimination, unequal pay and harassment.
“The woman employee (39-year-old Shreya Ulkil) and her superior Manoj Punja, 54, were relieved from service after an inquiry established that they were in a relationship but did not report about it to the company as a policy,” a Wipro spokesperson told IANS.
Ukil, who was sales and market development manager for Wipro’s back office operations in London, filed the lawsuit with the central London employment tribunal, claiming she was forced into an affair by Punja, a married man, who was her superior as head of the IT bellwether’s business process outsourcing (BPO) office in London.
The company in a statement earlier on Wednesday said its stated policy required employees to disclose any personal relationship that could create conflict of interest.
Alleging that the culture in Wipro required women employees to be subservient, Ukil reportedly told the tribunal at a hearing on Tuesday that many other women employees had left the company owing to similar experiences.
“I was also paid far less (75,000 pounds a year) than 150,000 pounds per annum paid to male colleagues,” Ukil charged the outsourcing major.
According to the report in The Telegraph newspaper, Ukil told the quasi-judicial tribunal that male employees of Wipro had branded their female counterparts “lesbians”, visited strip clubs and were encouraged to have affairs.
“I was subjected to predatory, misogynistic culture at the office where male colleagues boasted they had invited escorts to their rooms at sales conferences,” Ukil, a resident of Kensington in west London, deposed before the law court.
Terming the atmosphere for women techies at the office “toxic”, Ukil said they (women employees) were called ’emotional’, ‘psychotic’ or ‘menopausal’ if they were confident, capable and express viewpoints.
Recalling her stormy relationship with Punja, Ukil said during the hearing that on one business trip to Stockholm in Sweden in 2013, he told her that the silk blouse she was wearing was “too tight” for her body because of her “big breasts”.
“He (Punja) also told me that I was like a seductive dancer from Indian mythology,” Ulka told the tribunal.
She also accused Punja of performing “aggressive sexual advances” as part of an ingrained culture of discrimination and complete abuse of power.
“I was punished for submitting to those advances and daring to speak out,” Ukil stated in her statement to the tribunal and sought damages from the company for harassment and unfair dismissal.
Claiming that the company had serious objection to scurrilous allegations, Wipro said it would take legal action against insidious and defamatory charges against it.
“The company has built its business over the years by ensuring it adheres to the highest standards of integrity, fairness, and ethical corporate practices. Any transgression of these beliefs and policies are dealt with expeditiously and with the strictest action,” the statement asserted.
According to sources, Punja is currently based in the US as vice president of Bengaluru-based networking major Microland Ltd.