The skeletons from the cupboard are tumbling out thick and fast. After TVF Founder Arunabh Kumar, it is the turn of ScoopWhoop Co-founder Suparn Pandey to be booked for sexual harassment.
A former employee of ScoopWhoop filed a FIR in Vasant Kunj police station in Delhi alleging that she was subjected to sexual harassment at the workplace in the two years that she worked there.
According to media reports, she said in her complaint that she was subjected to inappropriate comments and lewd remarks by the co-founder. “Mr Suparn Pandey in public commented on my sexuality and this comment included calling me names [sic.] which reflected on my sexual orientation and my sexual preferences [sic.] as well as characterised me in a certain way,” she said in her official complaint, according to media reports.
The complainant said she felt “physically violated” and “disgusted” at Suparn’s behaviour after a meeting when he told her to be less “aggressive,” and then followed it up with kissing her on her forehead.
She also accused the other two founders Sattvik Mishra and Sriparna Tikekar for allegedly ignoring her complaints, adding that the management publicly humiliated her after she complained.
ScoopWhoop has meanwhile come out with an official statement against the allegations of sexual harassment. Condemning any kind of harassment at the workplace, ScoopWhoop said the organisation works towards “ensuring a safe and secure workplace for all our employees and takes any complaints of harassment extremely seriously.”
The official statement published on its site states that, “In line with workplace laws, ScoopWhoop has an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The ICC constitutes of two of our most senior and experienced women employees and an independent observer who has served on ICC panels across various prestigious and international companies. 40 percent of our workforce is women and we have equal representation in senior leadership positions. We have taken every step to ensure the complainant gets a fair hearing and are following the rule book on workplace harassment.”
The company said the complaint was forwarded to the ICC immediately and was being looked into, and that they were cooperating with the police on the matter. “The company is adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the Hon. Supreme Court of India and the law of the land against sexual harassment at workplace and the investigation is ongoing. We are fully prepared to accept the findings of the investigations and dutifully take the necessary action if found guilty.”
As more and more such cases come to light, it becomes imperative that the startup community wakes up to this malaise and addresses it in a proactive manner.