Woman who accused ex-UN climate chief Rajendra Pachauri of harassment quits think-tank

Indian climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri.
Indian climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri.WORLD FUTURE ENERGY SUMMIT

NEW DELHI (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) - A woman who accused Indian climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri of sexual harassment quit her job at a leading green think-tank on Wednesday (Nov 4), saying the organisation had treated her in the "worst possible manner" after she complained about his behaviour.

The 29-year-old researcher, who filed charges against the former chief of a UN climate panel in February, said the Energy and Resources Institute (Teri) - where Mr Pachauri was director-general - had discriminated against her.

"Teri failed to uphold my interests as an employee, let alone protect them," the woman wrote in an e-mail sent to Mr Dinesh Varma, head of Teri's human resource department, and circulated to the media.

"The organisation has instead protected R.K. Pachauri and provided him with full immunity, despite being held guilty of sexual harassment at the workplace by your own inquiry committee," said the woman, who cannot be named under Indian law.

A statement issued by Teri said the woman's complaints about it were "completely false and baseless."

"Teri has been completely fair and totally neutral in the matter. The organisation has till date accorded special privileges to the complainant and acceded to all her demands," said a statement sent to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

mr Pachauri, 75, who headed the Nobel Prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has denied the allegations, which police are currently investigating.

He quit as IPCC chairman over the sex harassment complaint earlier this year. In July, Teri's governing council removed him from the post of head of Teri which he had held for more than 30 years.

The woman said the governing council had created "a hostile environment" for her.

"I refuse to be associated with an organisation such as yours for the way you have mistreated me, for not standing by the law, for not having respect for my capabilities, for doing NOTHING to ensure that my career is not harmed and instead harmed me mentally, professionally and economically," she wrote.

Indian activists said the woman's resignation highlighted the challenges faced by Indian women when they speak out over sexual harassment in the workplace, especially when the alleged perpetrators are powerful and influential people.