POLICY AGAINST DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT, RETALIATION AND BULLYING
Last updated on February 14th, 2023.
Alianima is committed to providing all its personnel with a safe workplace, maintaining a work environment that is free from discrimination, harassment (including sexual harassment), retaliation and bullying. In addition to complying with state and federal anti-discrimination legislation, the purpose of this policy is (a) to protect personnel against discrimination, harassment, retaliation and bullying, including those who are not covered by current legislation, and (b) to create a culture in which every individual is treated with respect.
Alianima has a zero tolerance policy for acts of discrimination, harassment, retaliation and bullying in the workplace and will investigate all complaints made by any personnel or against a personnel. The personnel who are proven to have harassed, discriminated, retaliated or bullied against another will be subject to disciplinary action which may include termination of the contract.
All allegations of discrimination,harassment, retaliation and bullying will be taken seriously, investigated promptly and there will be no retaliation against complainants. Complaints will be kept as confidential and all records will be kept in a confidential file rather than in the complainant’s personal file. If necessary for the investigation, or if there is an imminent risk to a personnel, limited disclosure of information may be made.
Alianima recognizes that harassment, particularly sexual harassment, and retaliation can be manifestation of power relationships, and often happens between a supervisor and their direct report, or between a donor and a fundraiser. However, harassment, retaliation and bullying can occur between any two or more people regardless of their sex or gender identity and whether or not they are in a position of power. Alianima understands that it is necessary to support its personnel to make their complaints and support their supervisors to exemplify appropriate behavior.
Alianima recognizes that sexual harassment can occur between individuals of the same sex or gender, including those who do not identify with any specific gender.
During business travel, no personnel will be required to share a bedroom with a person of a different sex or gender, or any other person that would result in their feeling vulnerable or unsafe. The employee must inform their supervisor if they are uncomfortable rooming with a particular sex, gender, or person.
No policy can prescribe what should be done on every occasion because circumstances vary. If complainants need help or advice about a particular situation or circumstance, they are encouraged to contact their supervisor or a Designated Person, as defined and specified below.
Discrimination is the differential treatment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, size, social status or any other factor that is legislatively protected in the country in which one works (“Protected Classes”). Under federal law, discrimination is illegal in work-related decisions including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.
Harassment is an unwelcome conduct including physical, verbal, and nonverbal behaviors, and results in a hostile environment. Under federal law, harassment is illegal when unwelcome conduct is related to any of the Protected Classes, and when enduring the conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or the conduct is so severe or pervasive that a reasonable person would consider the working environment intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
Alianima recognizes that current federal and state anti-discrimination legislation could not foresee every possible behavior and every group of people. Alianima expands the definition of discrimination to include differential treatment in work-related decisions that are based on any characteristic of an individual that is unrelated to their professional qualifications, and harassment to include unwelcome conduct directed at any individual, thus making them feel threatened, publicly humiliated or intimidated.
Examples of harassment include, but are not limited to:
- Humiliation in front of coworkers;
- Repeated unwelcome remarks or jokes, including bullying;
- Exercising, attempting to exercise, or threatening to exercise physical force against a personnel in the workplace that causes or could cause physical injury to them;
- Comments that promote stereotyping of any of the Protected Classes;
- Comments regarding a personnel’s ethnicity, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender or age, that are publicly humiliating, offensive, threatening, or that undermine the personnel’s role in a professional environment.
Sexual harassment comprises undesirable conduct of a sexual nature. Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
- Unwelcome physical contact including touching, patting, pinching, stroking, kissing and hugging;
- Sexual comments, stories, and jokes, including bragging about sexual prowess;
- Repeated and unwanted social invitations for dates or physical intimacy;
- The use of work-related threats or rewards to entice for sexual favors;
- Comments on a personnel’s appearance or private life;
- Display of sexually explicit or suggestive material;
- Insults based on the sex or gender identity of the personnel;
- Physical violence, including sexual assault;
- Sending sexually explicit messages;
- Sexually-suggestive gestures;
Retaliation is an adverse action where a personnel who reports on harmful or illegal practices in their organization receives disciplinary consequences from their supervisor or from someone in a position of power. Some situations of retaliation can be against a personnel for raising a complaint, for participating in an investigation regarding a complaint, or for being otherwise associated with a complaint. These situations constitute a serious violation of this policy and will be subject to disciplinary action. Retaliation may come in the form of bullying, thus creating a hostile work environment, excluding individuals involved in important or everyday matters, dismissing or punishing them by other means. Retaliation will not be tolerated by any party at any level. Retaliatory acts should be swiftly reported to one of the Designated Persons by a qualified external party (such as a Discrimination and Harassment specialist, a human resources professional, or a lawyer) and will be taken seriously.
Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behavior that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening.
Some bullying behavior include but are not limited to:
- pejorative epithets, insults or stereotypes;
- threatening, intimidating or hostile acts;
- the use of violence or physical force;
- non-consensual physical contact;
- defamatory, crude or explicit jokes; and
- written or graphic material that defames or shows hostility, aversion or disrespect to a person or group and is placed on the walls or elsewhere on the work-place, shared verbally or circulated among personnel of Alianima by email, phone (including voice messages), text messages, blogs, social networking sites or any other medium.
The workplace is any place where work-related activities are conducted, including, but not limited to, the physical work premises, work-related conferences or training sessions, work-related travel, work-related social functions, such as dinners with donors, and work-related electronic communication, such as e-mail, chat, text messages, phone calls, and virtual meetings.
A Designated Person is a personnel, advisor, mediator, or another professional who Alianima determines is qualified to receive and investigate discrimination, harassment, retaliation and bullying complaints. The Designated Person must read and sign a copy of this Policy and attend an annual training on discrimination, harassment, retaliation and bullying. This position has no requirement for gender identity, racial identity, sexual orientation or other characteristics. Alianima is aware that such a definition may need revision in the future.
- Alianima will disclose this policy to its personnel and freelancers who provide regular services to the organization.
- In addition, at the time of hiring, all employees must sign the policy, indicating that they have read and understood it.
- Alianima will include this policy in its code of conduct.
- The Executive Board will be responsible for ensuring that all personnel are aware of this policy.
- Alianima will always have more than one person designated to receive complaints.
- Designated Persons will be defined in the annual training of this policy.
- The list of Designated Persons will be available on Alianima’s intranet.
- If the employee does not know one of the Designated Persons, the Executive Director must be contacted.
- Designated Persons must sign a copy of this policy to certify that they understand it and will follow it.
Alianima understands the importance of monitoring the implementation of this policy and will collect data anonymously to assess its use and effectiveness. The following actions will be performed regularly:
- In their annual assessment, personnel will participate in refresher training on the content of this policy. In the week following the end of the training, a Designated Person will contact each personnel individually and ask if anyone would like to schedule a time to clarify any doubts about the policy.
- Six months after the annual assessment, a Designated Person will contact each personnel, individually, to ask if anyone witnessed any situation of discrimination or harassment or was a victim in it. It will be up to the Designated Persons to define the best way to communicate with personnel.
- As part of the annual refresher course and its follow-up, as well as during the six-month follow-up, the Designated Persons must confirm that personnel have their contact details and that they know how to make anonymous complaints.
- Designated Persons will report the number of incidents, their resolutions, and any recommendations to the President.
- It is incumbent upon the President to discuss these statistics with all Designated Persons and with the Executive Board.
- The organization will regularly review the policy and make any changes needed.
- Every six months, the Executive Board will assess whether any Alianima’s regular service provider has not yet received the policy and will deliver it to anyone who may not have received it.
Employees are encouraged to keep written records of the date, time, details of the incident(s) and witness(es), if any. When they feel comfortable, employees can try to resolve the situation by communicating their disapproval directly to the person whose conduct is insulting.
If the personnel does not feel comfortable looking for the alleged perpetrator of harassment to request that the behavior stop, or if the alleged perpetrator continues with such behavior even after being asked to stop, the personnel can contact a Designated Person for receiving complaints of discrimination, harassment, retaliation and bullying. Upon receiving a complaint, the Designated Person will:
- Record the date(s), time(s), and facts of the incident(s).
- Ensure that the complainant understands the procedure for resolving the complaint.
- Identify what the claimant’s intended outcome is.
- Discuss the next steps, whether it is an informal or formal complaint, with the understanding that an informal resolution of the matter does not preclude the complainant from pursuing a formal complaint, if they are not satisfied with the outcome.
- Inform the complainant of their right to seek, if deemed necessary, legal advice.
- Respect the complainant’s choice.
- Keep a confidential record of all discussions.
- Ensure that the above actions are completed within 3 days of the initial conversation with the complainant.
- Require an outside investigation for any sexual harassment complaints against leadership or where there may be a conflict of interest.
Alianima will conduct external investigations of any sexual harassment complaints against the Executive Director and any person who oversees sexual harassment investigations; members of the organization’s board of directors; and where the staff member who conducts or oversees investigations have a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest (e.g. they are close friends with the accuser or the person accused).
The investigation into complaints against leadership must be by a qualified external party (such as a Discrimination and Harassment specialist, a human resources professional, or a lawyer).
If the personnel decides to resolve the matter informally, the Designated Person must:
- Offer the accused the opportunity to respond to the complaint.
- Make sure the accused understands the procedure for resolving the complaint.
- If the complainant feels comfortable, facilitate a conversation between the parties to reach an informal resolution of the issue that is acceptable to the complainant.
- If the complainant is uncomfortable, reach an informal resolution by talking separately with the complainant and the accused.
- If the Designated Person is unable to reach an informal resolution acceptable to the complainant, consult the President, who may refer the matter to a mediator.
- Keep a confidential record of all steps taken to resolve the complaint.
- Inform the President keeping, as much as possible, the anonymity of the parties; if the President is the alleged victim or accused, inform a member of the Executive Board.
- Ensure that the above actions are completed within 7 days of receiving the complaint. If the Designated Person finds it difficult to meet this deadline, they may work together with another Designated Person to discharge these obligations.
- Follow up two weeks after the conversation to make sure the behavior has stopped.
If the complainant chooses to make a formal complaint, or if previous attempts to resolve the matter do not lead to a satisfactory outcome for the complainant, a formal complaint must be filed. To this end, the Designated Person who initially received the complaint will form a committee with all Designated Persons then responsible for receiving complaints. In the case that a Designated Person has a conflict of interest due to their relationship with the complainant or accused, or any other reason, they must withdraw from the investigation and turn the investigation over to one of the other Designated People or a third party. This committee will either investigate the complaint or refer the matter for external investigation.
Note: The measures below assume that the committee will carry out the investigation.
In the investigation, the following actions will be taken:
- Inform the President of the complaint, maintaining, as much as possible, the anonymity of the parties. If the President is the alleged victim or accused, inform a member of the Executive Board.
- Interview the personnel and the accused separately.
- Interview other relevant parties, such as witnesses, separately.
- Write a report detailing the investigation, findings and any recommendations. There will be instances in which the committee will not be able to determine whether the incident(s) happened. For this reason, the committee will focus on a measure that resolves the alleged incident in an appropriate way and ensures the proper functioning of the workplace.
During the course of an investigation, Alianima may implement interim measures as necessary with the express purpose of protecting all parties. A provision will be defined and implemented.
At the end of the investigation, the Designated Persons committee will consult with the complainant regarding their preferred provision, such as a plan for future interactions that is acceptable to all parties, an apology, a change in the work system, a promotion (if the complainant has been demoted due to harassment), training for the accused, disciplinary action, suspension or contract termination. Based on the complainant’s contribution and the results of the investigation, the committee will make a provision. If necessary, the committee may consult with the President for assistance in defining the provision.
After defining the provision, the Designated Persons committee must:
- Keep a confidential record of all steps taken to resolve the complaint.
- Follow up after a week to make sure the recommendations have been implemented and the complainant is satisfied with the outcome.
- If the complainant is dissatisfied, talk to them to find out the reason for the dissatisfaction and find out what other provisions could be adopted.
- Ensure that the above action is taken within 30 days of the complaint.
- Note: If a personnel makes multiple complaints against the same accused and the Designated Person(s) understand that the complaints themselves represent a form of harassment, the complainant may respond with disciplinary action.
Witnesses of Discrimination and Harassment
An employee who is aware of acts of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, even if not directly involved, must report them to a Designated Person, who must document the incident and consult with the alleged victim to determine if they would like to present a complaint. If so, the Designated Person will follow the procedure described above. If not, the documentation of the alleged incident will be filed confidentially, so that, in the event that the alleged victim or accused becomes involved in another complaint or accusation, the Designated Persons may consult the documentation of the previous situation.
Complaints against Third Parties
Alianima recognizes that personnel can be victims of discrimination or harassment by a non-personnel who supports or conducts business with Alianima, such as donors, hosts, service providers, consultant, or volunteer (“third party”). A personnel who believes that they have been discriminated against or harassed by a third party is encouraged to file a complaint with a Designated Person, who must document it and take appropriate action under the circumstances. For example, if a fundraiser files a complaint against a donor, the Designated Person may, with the personnel’s permission, recommend to the respective supervisor that that fundraiser is no longer designated to work with that donor.
Third Party Complaints
Alianima recognizes that non-personnel personnel can be victims of discrimination or harassment by personnel of the organization. This would be the case, for example, of a service provider being harassed by a personnel at a work-related event. If a non-personnel believes they have been discriminated against or harassed by a personnel and reports the conduct to a member of Alianima, the third party will be appointed a Designated Person, who must follow the same procedure for informal and formal complaints described above.
It is possible for the personnel or third party to file an anonymous complaint by contacting a professional mediator who is not a member of Alianima. The identity of the complainant will be known by the mediator, but not by the members of Alianima. The mediator will report the complaint to a Designated Person, keeping the identity of the complainant confidential. Alianima will not be able to conduct a full investigation without interviewing the alleged witness or victim. However, if the complainant identifies the harasser, the Designated Person must interview him, keeping confidential records of both the complainant and the respondent’s response.
Alianima endeavors to grow and learn, making room for improvement in the drafting and implementation of this policy, in the hope that the activists who work for the organization will contribute to a fair and respectful culture within the movement in defense of animals and the environment.
This document is provided free of charge to other organizations in need of a template for their own policies against discrimination, harassment, retaliation and bullying.