Shreya Ukil vs. Wipro: Lessons in Workplace Gender Discrimination

Code : HRM0087

Year :
2018

Organization :
Wipro, London 

Industry : IT Sector

Region : England and India

Teaching Note:Available

Structured Assignment :Not Available

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ABOUT WIPRO:

One of the largest software exporters in India, Wipro a Bengaluru based firm operated in more than 58 countries and was renowned worldwide for innovative approach towards business values. Wipro provided Information Technology services, software resolutions and research and development services serving clients in more than 175 cities and across 6 continents for the year ended March, 2016.

Wipro was recognized by Ethisphere Institute, as world’s most ethical company in 2015. The code of conduct and ethics designed at Wipro safeguard employees’ interest. Wipro aimed at complying with all applicable laws and regulations committed to conducting business in an ethical manner. The HR policies ensured that there was no discrimination and employment was based on qualification and competency. .


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GRIEVANCE RAISED

Ukil joined Wipro, London as sales and marketing executive in 2010 on a promotion after serving the company’s Bengaluru branch for almost a decade. In the course of time, Ukil learned that she was paid reasonably less salary than her male counterparts. While Ukil earned £ 75,000 her colleagues were paid £ 160,000 per annum. When Ukil complained about the pay disparity, the Sales Manager, Europe instead of addressing the issue, humiliated her and advised her to leave the team. Later by the end of 2012, Ukil joined global head of Sales, Wipro, Manoj Punja (Punja). Over the months, Ukil alleged that she was forced into a relationship with Punja. Ukil claimed that Punja abused his power to pressurize her and told her to maintain secrecy about their relationship. He asked her to communicate through Whatsapp and Viber. Ukil expressed that sexual advances of her boss disturbed her and she felt she was losing her mind. She confessed that she resorted to drinking in order to overcome the situation. Under these circumstances, Ukil had to bear unreasonable remarks from her colleagues that caused her to have mental breakdown that led to her hospitalization..

WIPRO’S DEFENCE

Wipro strongly opposed the allegations made by Ukil. Wipro maintained that the company adhered to strict code of conduct and ethical practices. Any contravention to these beliefs will invite prompt and strict action..

THE VERDICT

The verdict announced by the Employment Tribunal on the case was complicated and created confusion as the judgment did not clearly stand in favor of one party. On one hand, Ukil claimed to have won the battle against Wipro while on the other; Wipro maintained that the Tribunal rejected the claims of undesirable cultural approach towards women. The mixed verdict supported Wipro’s decision to terminate Ukil’s employment saying that the claimant was unfairly dismissed, but the dismissal was not wrongful..

LOOKING AHEAD

Ukils’ case was not one of its kind. The incidences of such instances were not new to the information technology (IT) sector. In spite of the steps taken by the management of the companies as well as by the government an alarming rise in number of such occurrences raised questions on the existence and execution of ethical framework in the corporate sector. In May 2013, IGate Corp, a multinational company sacked CEO Phaneesh Murthy on accusations of improper sexual conduct. A national newspaper14 reported “In a similar case it was observed that a senior executive was reprimanded for making gender insensitive comments and was forced to leave his company”..

EXHIBITS:

Exhibit I:The Code of Business Conduct (COBC)
Exhibit II:Women’s Empowerment Principles at Wipro
Exhibit III:Gender Discrimination Exists Strongly?



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