The case was formally reported to the CEO yesterday

Staff reporter 

A week after a case of alleged sexual harassment occurred at the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC), the chief executive officer (CEO), Sonam Tobjey, said that he received the formal written complaint letter only yesterday morning.

The CEO said that since he received the case around 10:15am yesterday and was engaged with another important meeting, he was unable to review the case thoroughly.

However, he stated that now that the case has been formally lodged with the management by the victim, it is the CEO’s mandate to assemble an inquiry committee.

“I’ll ensure a committee is formed, and as per the rules, an inquiry will commence within five working days after I’ve read the case report completely,” he said. “Based on the findings and service rules, we will then take action. It should be within 10 working days.”

A female staff member at BPC filed a complaint to the management against one of the directors for behaving inappropriately and harassing her around 2am on September 15.

The incident occurred when the alleged victim and another female colleague were attending to their night shift duties at the company’s customer care office.

The victim formally filed a written complaint on September 21.

The victim has declined to comment. However, it was learnt that she filed the case, despite pressure from several sources to withdraw it.   

According to the CEO, it is important to listen to both the accused and the victim. “We respect the complaint and we’ll deal with the case as per the service rules.”

He said that since nothing has been proven yet, he felt there was no basis to suspend the accused as of now. “Since the accused is a director, the disciplinary committee will act as an inquiry committee.”

The CEO has asked the management to place the victim on leave or release her from her duties as of now so that she does not feel anxious in the office. “This was the least I could do for her as the head of the management.”

As per the BPC’s service rules and regulations 2016, an employee shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment if he or she commits any kind of sexual harassment as defined by the service rules. “It will be considered a major violation of the code of conduct and dealt with accordingly, as per the major disciplinary proceedings.”

The victim, as per the service rules, must submit the complaint in writing and write to the designated person. The designated person shall acknowledge receipt of the victim’s written complaint within two working days and commence an investigation within five working days.

“If the victim is not satisfied with the outcome of the internal complaint procedure, the victim may lodge a complaint to the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources. If a person is found to be guilty of sexual harassment, they may be held legally liable if the employer knew or reasonably should have known of harassment and failed to take action,” the service rules stated.

BPC is also an institutional partner of South Asian network ‘WePower’, in which two directors from the corporation are also members. ‘WePower’ is a network for women working in South Asia’s power and energy sector that empowers women in energy and power companies to tackle difficult social issues such as gender equality.

Meanwhile, many BPC employees have written to Kuensel via social media platforms asking for follow-up, fearing the management might quietly close the case like numerous previous alleged harassment cases.