Golf Club row: Not dress, domestic help assumption behind Khasi woman's exit

14 Aug 2017

A woman from Meghalaya left The Delhi Golf Club after a staffer objected to her presence because he assumed she was a domestic help, an internal inquiry has found . It said there was no objection to her traditional Khasi outfit 'jainsem', as claimed by the woman's employer. The three-member inquiry committee headed by Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal has submitted its report, nearly two months after the June 25 incident, which drew widespread criticism. It recommended that the club issue an apology to Tailin Lyngdoh, who was accompanying her employer Nivedita Borthakur Sondhi. According to the report, the club staffer concerned had not asked Lyngdoh to leave or said anything about her attire, and that the host member herself asked everyone to get up and leave to avoid any further unpleasantness. The committee said the incident arose on account of the fact that the desk staff "assumed Lyngdoh to be a domestic employee". Domestic employees "are not allowed in the dining hall as per rules". "When questioned by the committee, the staff member admitted to having gone to the table and informed the member that domestic employees are not allowed. According to him, all he said was 'Ma'am maid is not allowed --I'm only telling you the rule'," the report said.
The report states that the exchange was apparently overheard by Sondhi who became agitated and proceeded to walk out of the dining hall while speaking in a loud voice. According to the committee, it was "inappropriate and insulting for the staff of the club to have directly gone to the table and told the member within audible range of the guest" that domestic employees, as they assumed Lyngdoh to be, were not allowed. The report viewed Sondhi's behaviour too "inappropriate". The committee report mentions that despite several attempts, the guest did not depose or record her version. The report mentions that the staffer concerned had also found the round-neck t-short worn by Sondhi's son was "inappropriate" and it was pointed out to the member. The staff also entered the transgression of the dress code into the register as per the procedure. The committee is of the view that the staffer was merely following the guidelines and rules laid by the club committee. "However, the appropriate course of action would have been to have discreetly brought the issue to the notice of the member," it said. The committee, thus, recommended that the club issue an apology to Lyngdoh as it had earlier only apologised to the host member. The committee suggested that the staff and management should undergo a sensitisation course and noted that "some serious introspection" is needed about the prevailing attitudes within the management and the staff towards domestic employees. Lyngdoh, a governess, was invited with her employer Sondhi to a lunch hosted by a member of the Delhi Golf Club on June 25. According to Sondhi, two staffers had approached Lyngdoh and told her she looked like a maid and was not allowed there Lyngdoh said she was asked to leave while they were having lunch. "The manager said, 'It is not allowed, so you must go out.' I went out, but it was very sad for me to hear such a thing," she said. In a statement issued later, the club said it had apologised to the member who had hosted the lunch, while maintaining that the guests had not been asked to leave the club premises.(PTI)