Staff Guidelines for Handling a Code of Conduct Violation
If an incident of harassment (Code of Conduct violation) is reported to a staff member, the staff member should take the following actions, depending on the severity and details of the incident:
- Summon security or police if there is a threat to attendees or anyone else present OR if the victim requests that law enforcement be involved.
- Offer the victim a private place to sit.
- Ask “is there a friend or trusted person who you would like to be with you?” If so, arrange for someone to fetch this person.
- Ask “how can I help?”
- Provide them with a list of AHS contacts in the event they wish to later discuss the incident.
- Immediately report the incident to the conference chair, community development volunteer, board member or conference planner.
We must ensure documentation, in writing, of as much information as possible. If the person making the report cannot provide a detailed written report, a staff member should transcribe their verbal report. The incident report should be detailed and include:
- Identifying information about the participant doing the harassing (Who?)
- The behavior that was in violation (What?)
- The approximate time of the behavior (When?)
- The circumstances surrounding the incident (How? Where?)
- The names—if known— of others present at the incident
- Encouraging the person reporting the incident to withdraw the complaint or mention that withdrawal is OK. This suggests that you want them to do so, and is therefore coercive. “If you’re ready to pursue the complaint” suggests that you are by default pursuing it and is not coercive.
- Asking the person reporting the incident for advice on how to deal with the complaint. This is a staff responsibility.
- Offering input on penalties to the person reporting the incident. This is a staff responsibility.
- Encouraging the person accused of harassment to apologize.
The staff members taking the report will meet. The objectives of the meeting are as follows:
- To find out what happened.
- To find out is is involved.
- To find out when the incident(s) occured.
- To determine how we will handle this.
Prepare an initial response to the incident. This initial response is very important and will set the tone for AHS.
After the staff meeting and discussion, have a staff member (preferably the conference chair or event coordinator, if available) communicate with the alleged harasser. Make sure to inform them of what has been reported about them.
Allow the alleged harasser to give their side of the story to the staff. After this point, if report stands, let the alleged harasser know what actions will be taken against them.
The following list of possible consequences for harassment is not exhaustive:
- Warning the harasser to cease their behavior and that any further reports will result in sanctions.
- Require that the harasser avoid any interaction with, and physical proximity to, their victim for the remainder of the event.
- Ending early a talk that violates the policy.
- Not publishing the video or slides of a talk that violated the policy.
- Not allowing a speaker who violated the policy to give talks at the event now or in the future.
- Immediately ending any event volunteer responsibilities and privileges the harasser holds.
- Requiring that the harasser not volunteer for future events (either indefinitely or for a certain time period).
- Requiring that the harasser refund any travel grants and similar they received.
- Requiring that the harasser immediately leave the event and not return.
- Banning the harasser from future events (either indefinitely or for a certain time period).
- Removing a harasser from membership of relevant organizations.
- Publishing an account of the harassment and calling for the resignation of the harasser from their responsibilities.
Give accused attendees a place to appeal to if there is one, but in the meantime the report stands.
It is very important how we deal with the incident publicly. When speaking to individuals aware of the incident, but not involved with the incident, ensure the privacy of involved individuals is protected. Our policy is to make sure that everyone aware of the initial incident is also made aware that the incident is in violation of our Code of Conduct and that official action has been taken – while still respecting the privacy of individual attendees.
Depending on the incident, the conference chair or his designate may decide to make one or more public announcements. If necessary, this will be done with a short announcement either during the plenary and/or through other channels. No one other than the conference chair or someone delegated authority from the conference chair should make any announcements.
Communicate with any attendees upset by the incident. If they have residual hard feelings, encourage them to email the conference chair so that their concerns may be addressed.