1-Megha was perhaps too kind and soft in dealing the matter of Sumit & Deepti. Agreed that people handling skills are required as a HR person and one has to portray a nice, gentle and subtle approach when handling employee grievances and especially those that are sensitive in nature like in this case. At times, discipline and stern, firmer approach is also the need of the hour so that both the persons involved in the dispute know that a strong, mature and experienced enough leader is now handling the matter and that the person is wise and capable enough to know who is telling the truth and who is wrong and thus arrive at a decision.
Another lapse by Megha was that she trusted Deepti & Sumit and felt that the matter is resolved after counseling by her and Padma. Megha felt that Deepti would be satisfied by the degree of solution offered but it was not the case so. Deepti rather felt shortchanged by the solution offered and it built up to such an extent that she complained to further higher up authorities i.e. to Operations Director wherein she also alleged that Megha & Padma were in connivance with Sumit for his acts and had left her alone to fend for herself in the hostile work environment. Basically the nice, soft and gentle approach of counseling & forgetting petty issues backtracked on Megha whereas the need of the hour was a firmer and disciplined approach that no nonsense will be tolerated in workplace and company policies have to be adhered to.
2-The personality of Deepti is two-sided. On the appearance, she shows as agreed to the solution offered by Megha and Padma and all is well between her and reporting manager Sumit and that they have patched up but inside it is not satisfied. That dissatisfaction is building up that she is forced to complain after a month to higher up authorities which in this case is Director Operations and also go against the HR Head Megha and Housekeeping Manager Padma who had additional responsibilities of looking after sexual harassment matters of employees. Deepti also accuses Megha and Padma of being in connivance with Sumit for his acts and that they had left her to fend for herself in the hostile work environment.
So Deepti instead of trusting her fellow colleagues who tried to be with her, counsel her for good and boost her confidence, went against them. So Deepti cannot be trusted genuinely even if one tried to help her too. You never know what's building inside or what is the thought process. This also shows lack of maturity on part of Deepti - how things work in an organisation and how to get along with bosses, subordinates and other colleagues alike which is but understandable since it's her first job.
No, there is no element of sexual harassment in the story. It's more related to working relationship and reporting styles between boss and junior wherein a mismatch is seen. Sumit as the boss is a taskmaster who wants things done as instructed and will not tolerate any lapses or indiscipline whereas Deepti being in her first job is yet to learn the ropes of working in an organisation and how to maintain working relationships.
3-Yes, Sumit should have refrained himself from shouting and improving upon his language while talking to women colleague's and also while feeding data of Deepti's working details and her time consuming at work especially when in conversation with Megha HR Head and Padma who dealt with cases related to sexual harassment. This showed bias nature and personal grudge of Sumit towards Deepti and the fact that he could speak out so many negative points about her work and mistakes and flaws. This shows that there was more to the matter between Sumit and Deepti than that what was made out to be or shown.
This was a sensitive matter and Sumit could have handled himself better. By being unable to control himself and his short temper when confronted with uncomfortable questions and speaking negatively, Sumit only made the matters worse for himself. This shows lack of soft skills on part by Sumit even though he may be technically competent in his job. Even after counseling by Megha and Padma, Sumit was overconfident about himself. He went about his business as usual and tried to make life more worse for Deepti that ultimately led her to complaining about him to higher up authorities and suspension from work till further notice. Good sense should have prevailed in Sumit when confronted with such a scenario and he should have tried to change himself, his behavior and attitude with his junior subordinates, but he did not. He instead retaliated further that made matters worse for him.
4-Yes, the approach by Corporate Director in handling the matter is appropriate as it has opted to conduct an independent enquiry and decision making since it has come to their level and has bypassed the hierarchical heads/teams below. It is but natural to ask the person against whom the complaint has been alleged to go on leave till further notice so as to ensure a free trial without any disturbance and also that the complainant feels safe & secure since it was she who felt that was left to fend for herself in the hostile work environment. So the first thing to do naturally for the Corporate is to create an amicable environment.
Yes, the Corporate Director Operations could have probed the matter a little by having discussions with both Megha & Padma since they both were aware of the situation and especially since Padma was asked to observe Sumit's behavior, however since Deepti had also alleged that both of them were also in connivance with Sumit, the Corporate Director had no option but to unilaterally take the decision of suspending Sumit from work till further notice.
5-Megha should without hesitation inform the Corporate Director Operations of the entire situation, how she was first approached by Deepti, how she first listened to her & Sumit, then asked Sumit to move out of the conversation, Sumit's reactions, involving Padma, counseling Deepti, working out an interim amicable solution and also instructing Padma to keep a watch on Sumit's behavior henceforth. Megha should inform to Operations Director of her intentions, should justify her actions. She should also express clearly that she never felt that Deepti would lose confidence in her actions and solutions and that she would take one step further. Deepti could have always come back to Megha and Padma if she were still unhappy and felt that the situation has still remained the same. Deepti should have trusted Megha and Padma and should have given them some time to resolve the matter instead of complaining about them too, who they both tried to help her out. So Megha should make her position and actions clear to the Corporate to whom the matter has now reached.
Going forward, Megha who has surely learn't some lessons for herself by this incident will have to be more careful as whom to support, trust and whom not to, she will have to not let her nicety and genuineness come in the way of making decisions. A more practical, realistic and probably, a firmer & stern approach will be needed in handling such situations.