It looks like The Viral Fever (TVF) is changing its tune regarding the accusations of sexual harassment against founder Arunabh Kumar. In a Facebook post, Nidhi Bisht, actress and writer at TVF, who had earlier defended Kumar, encouraged women to come forward and file a formal complaint regarding misconduct by Kumar.
“I would request women to come forward, without fear and lodge a formal complaint. Be rest assured, that due actions will be taken and we’ll get to the bottom of the issue,” Bisht said. She added that the allegations in the Medium post by Indian Fowler were baseless.
“When the first blog post came out 24 hours back, I dismissed it completely because there was no such person of that description in the company at that time. Just to be sure, I checked with a few colleagues and there is no record for such a person ever existing. Hence the accusations on the blog post are completely baseless,” Bisht added.
The accusations were initially made by an anonymous post by author Indian Fowler which detailed the harassment she allegedly faced from the founder. Since then, multiple women, including director Reema Sengupta, have come forward outlining their complaints.
Bisht’s statement was contradictory to TVF’s previous tone which said that “we will leave no stone unturned to find the author of the article and bring them to severe justice for making such false allegations.”
In a statement to FactorDaily, TVF responded by saying “This is an official response from TVF on the anonymous article published on Medium by the Indian Fowler. The article is completely ludicrous and defamatory against TVF and its team. All the allegations made against TVF and its team in the article are categorically false, baseless and unverified. We take a lot of pride in our team and in making TVF a safe workplace that is equally comfortable for women and men. We will leave no stone unturned to find the author of the article and bring them to severe justice for making such false allegations. It is our humble request that you do not share an unsubstantiated, unverified and anonymous article such as this.”
Note that TVF has also been accused of not having an HR department to lodge complaints and to not abide by the mandatory Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which makes it easier for women to report cases of sexual harassment or abuse.
Frankly, TVF’s handling of the accusations has been mediocre at best. The company, instead of detailing its policies and showing accountability, has stuck to its guns of attacking the accuser by threatening legal action. While the case is far from clear about what actually happened, TVF has failed to address the accusations in any meaningful way through its statements. Even Uber, which has come under fire for insensitivity towards workers and female employees, recently fired Amit Singhal, over non-disclosure of past sexual harassment complaints