Faced with sexual harassment from her bosses and forced to quit after complaining to the HR, a former employee of Star News, presently owned by ABP news, is fighting for her case to be heard for the past four years
By Team FI
Four years ago, media circles had been agog with the accusation made by an employee of Star News (now ABP News) of sexual harassment by her seniors which resulted in her losing her job. The employee was working as Head of Creative Cell for the media company and the accused were her bosses –Gautam Sharma – then the National Sales Head, and Avinash Pandey – then the Regional Head North India. Despite the fact that she had reported it to the National Commission for Women (NCW), and presented her case to many other media houses, her case went unheard.
Her story however resurfaced recently on various social media platforms. Saniya (name changed to protect identity) credits the recent case of Tarun Tejpal and its outcome for her renewed hope of getting justice.
Saniya had joined Star in the year 2006. Though she had worked for over five years in a multinational company, this was her first experience in working in news media outfit
Saniya alleges that she was sexually harassed over a period of 3 years by her seniors Avinash Pandey and Gautam Sharma. She alleges that she was asked to drink, dance and even sit on the laps of her employers. “I was new in my job and hence worried that if I resign; I would be questioned for changing the job so soon and would probably be seen as a weak professional. I had changed industry from FMCG to media, and I had come here to stay.”
In 2009, she says she garnered the courage and made a verbal compliant to the HRD head and subsequently in 2010 she says she was left with no option but to quit. In an email to an online media website, she says, “When I was denied help of any sort within the organization, I went to the National Commission for Women (NCW). However, least did I know at that time that the NCW is a compromised commission which has no tooth of its own. I was made to believe that my integrity and my modesty were in safe hands but I was mistaken. The NCW chose to go the way of my employer. My fight with this big media house is still on, with no help from anywhere. It is just my belief in the age-old adage that “truth always triumphs” that keeps me going. Witnesses were created, documentary evidences were deleted, and the men who harassed me were promoted at Star News/ABP News.”
Avinash Pandey is currently the COO and Gautam Sharma is the Vice-President at ABP News.