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Policies and Procedures

If you have any questions regarding the AJS’s Sexual Misconduct procedures, please contact Laura Levitt, Chair of the AJS Committee on Sexual Misconduct, or Lisa Fishbayn-Joffe, Secretary of the AJS Committee on Sexual Misconduct, or any of the AJS Ombuds Team Members.

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AJS Sexual Misconduct Policy and related definitions

In order to maintain a professional and comfortable environment for its members, conference registrants, and staff, the association requires certain standards of behavior. These standards include, without limitation, courtesy of discourse, respect for the diversity of AJS members and conference attendees, and the ability to conduct AJS business and participate in the AJS conference in a nonthreatening, collegial atmosphere. AJS members and conference participants who do not uphold these standards may jeopardize their membership or conference participation.

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is antithetical to the standards and ideals of our community and will not be tolerated. Sexual misconduct incorporates a range of behaviors including sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, stalking, voyeurism, and any other conduct of a sexual nature that is nonconsensual, or has the purpose or effect of threatening, intimidating, or coercing a person. Much sexual misconduct includes nonconsensual sexual contact, but this is not a necessary component. For example, threatening speech that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to constitute sexual harassment will constitute sexual misconduct.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal comment or physical conduct of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s professional work or academic performance, including situations in which (i) the request or conduct involves any implied or expressed promise of professional reward for complying; or (ii) the request or conduct involves any implied or expressed threat of reprisal or denial of opportunity for refusing to comply; or (iii) the request or conduct results in what reasonably may be perceived as a hostile or intimidating environment. Such examples are illustrative, not exhaustive. Sexual harassment may be found in a single episode, as well as in persistent behavior. All members of our community are protected from sexual harassment, and sexual harassment is prohibited regardless of the sex of the harasser or the harassed.

Consent

Under the AJS’s policies, sexual activity requires affirmative consent, which is defined as positive, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement to engage in specific sexual activity throughout a sexual encounter. Consent cannot be inferred from the absence of a “no;” a clear “yes,” verbal or otherwise, is necessary. Consent to some sexual acts does not constitute consent to others, nor does past consent to a given act constitute present or future consent. Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time.

Consent cannot be obtained by threat, coercion, or force. Agreement under such circumstances does not constitute consent. Consent cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated due to alcohol, drugs, or some other condition. A person is mentally or physically incapacitated when that person lacks the ability to make or act on considered decisions to engage in sexual activity. Engaging in sexual activity with a person whom you know—or reasonably should know—to be incapacitated constitutes sexual misconduct.

Professional conduct includes, but is not limited to, conduct based on respect for others which does not in any way exploit power and/or status differences such as those that exist between faculty and students, between senior and junior colleagues, between employers and those seeking employment, or between those who grant access to publication or presentation and those who seek such access. It also includes conduct based on respect in peer to peer relationships. Professional conduct is free of all forms of harassment and discrimination.

Video: “Explaining sexual harassment,” CNN.

AJS Sexual Misconduct Procedures

View and Download a PDF of the full procedures of the AJS Committee on Sexual Misconduct.

The AJS is committed to a set of core values that guide interactions with and between members. These core values include a commitment to treat members, conference registrants, observers, exhibitors, recruiters and staff in an ethical fashion, to respect and honor the diverse perspectives we bring, and to act in good faith.

Sexual misconduct is antithetical to the AJS’s core values and expected standards of professional behavior and will not be tolerated. AJS members and conference participants who violate the AJS Policy on Sexual Misconduct may jeopardize their membership, conference participation, or both.

As a learned society, the AJS reserves to itself the right to determine:

  • a) eligibility for Association membership
  • b) eligibility to hold office in the Association
  • c) eligibility to participate in Association proceedings and conferences
  • d) eligibility to be published in Association platforms

Where appropriate, the AJS Executive Committee or President in consultation with the AJS Committee on Sexual Misconduct (CSM), may decide to suspend or revoke these privileges for violations of the AJS Sexual Misconduct policy, or restore them at a later date.

The procedures set out below apply to AJS Members and Affiliates. Members, in the context of this document, refers to dues-paying members of the AJS. Affiliates refers to non-dues paying persons affiliated with AJS programs and activities such as non-member conference participants, observers, recruiters, exhibitors. Penalties available for addressing misconduct by members differ from those available for addressing misconduct by affiliates.

The term Complainant refers to a person who brings a formal or informal complaint of sexual misconduct to the AJS Committee on Sexual Misconduct. The term Respondent refers to a person against whom a complaint of sexual misconduct has been made (whether or not that person is notified of the complaint).

AJS members and affiliates may contact a reporting member of the CSM in order to:

  • (A) seek information (including whether certain behaviors constitute a violation of the AJS sexual misconduct policy and how to report a complaint);

  • (B) seek resolution of an informal complaint; or

  • (C) bring a formal complaint regarding conduct which may violate the AJS Sexual Misconduct policy by contacting a member of the Ombuds Team, the CSM chair, or the CSM secretary.

In some cases, a complainant may

  • (D) seek an immediate interim remedy.

Each of these options is discussed in full below.

A. Informational Role

Once contacted, the Ombuds Team member, CSM chair, or secretary will:

  • • Listen respectfully to all complaints;

  • • Where appropriate, suggest contacts for information about matters that fall outside the purview of the AJS;

  • • Provide basic information about resolution options within the AJS;

  • • With the agreement of the complainant, record basic information about the complaint on an intake form which will ultimately be filed in a confidential central repository.

The Ombuds Team member will also:

  • • Provide detailed information about resolution options within the AJS, specifically the informal and formal complaint procedures;

  • • Work with complainants seeking informal resolutions;

  • • Perform other relevant functions typical of an “organizational ombudsman” as detailed part II.8 of the AJS Procedures for Addressing Complaints of Violations of the AJS Sexual Misconduct Policy.

B. Resolution of Informal Complaints

To resolve the complaint informally, the complainant may contact a reporting member of the CSM: any Ombuds Team member, the CSM chair, or the CSM secretary. There are three informal options. The complainant may (i) request that the complaint be archived. The complainant may (ii) seek accommodation or (iii) request mediation. In informal cases, the respondent would be notified of the complaint only in the case of (iii) mediation.

The three informal options are outlined below.

Archiving:

An individual who makes an informal inquiry or complaint may request that the CSM keep the matter confidential from the person alleged to have engaged in misconduct (except in the case of mediation as described below) or other persons involved in the events. In the absence of such notification, the CSM chair or secretary will offer to archive the complaint for informal counseling or possible future action. The respondent is not notified.

Note: an archived complaint is a recorded statement of an allegation and as such is part of the CSM’s records. No archived complaint will be acted upon without the consent of the complainant. No archived complaint will be taken into account as evidence by the CSM when adjudicating another complaint against the same respondent without the written consent of the individual who filed the archived complaint and the author would be notified that the respondent would learn the contents of the complaint and the identity of the complainant. Archived complaints may also be taken into account in determining appropriate remedial measures in another complaint.

Accommodation

In addition to archiving, the CSM chair or secretary may also provide accommodating measures that are responsive to the complainant’s needs as appropriate and reasonably possible (such as requesting of AJS staff that the complainant and respondent not be assigned to the same conference panel or requesting of AJS Review editors that the complainant’s submitted article not be sent to the respondent for review). The respondent is not notified by the CSM of the request for accommodation or the nature of any approved accommodation.

Mediation

Persons submitting an informal complaint will also be offered the option of informal mediation conducted by the chair of the CSM assisted by the secretary and in consultation with the reporting Ombuds team member where relevant. In such a case, the respondent must be notified of the complaint and the complainant’s identity by the CSM secretary (in coordination with the AJS Executive Director) and will be given the opportunity to offer a written response within 7 days. The CSM chair will discuss the complaint separately with both parties (who will not meet face to face) and determine whether a mutually acceptable resolution is possible.

The CSM will not be able to engage in informal mediation unless the complainant is willing to reveal the complaint (including the complainant’s identity) to the respondent, the CSM chair and secretary.

In all informal cases (archiving, accommodation, and mediation) the complainant will be informed that participation in an informal resolution is voluntary and that the complainant may end the informal process at any time and bring a formal complaint or not pursue the matter further. In some cases, such as allegations of violence, the AJS may be required to report the misconduct to law enforcement, even if the complainant chooses not to pursue the matter further within the AJS.

C. Formal Complaint Procedure

A member or affiliate may elect to make a formal complaint either without first seeking an informal resolution or after attempting an informal resolution.

1) To initiate a formal complaint, the complainant must submit a written statement to the CSM chair and secretary. The statement must name the respondent and describe the events and circumstances underlying the complaint in sufficient detail (such as location, time, and date of the alleged incident(s), the nature of the conduct alleged, the specific policy or policies allegedly violated, and include accompanying documents, such as texts, emails or other relevant material) to allow the CSM chair and secretary to conduct a prima facie review. The complainant will not contact the respondent about the complaint once the complaint has been submitted.

2) Upon receipt, the CSM chair and secretary will have 7 calendar days to review the complaint and determine if the facts alleged present a prima facie violation of the AJS Sexual Misconduct policy and if the complainant has standing to submit a formal complaint. If the committee determines that there is no violation of the policy or that the complainant has no standing, they will so inform the complainant, in writing.

3) If the CSM chair and secretary determine that the facts alleged could constitute a violation of the policy and that the complainant has standing to file a formal complaint, the chair will inform the respondent in writing that a formal complaint has been filed and will be heard by the CSM. The letter will include the complaint, any documents accompanying the complaint, references to the appropriate section of the AJS Sexual Misconduct policy, and a copy of these procedures.

4) Upon receiving notice of the complaint, the respondent will have 14 calendar days to provide a written response to the committee. After being notified of the complaint, the respondent will not contact the complainant. During the remaining steps of the process the complainant and respondent will have no direct contact.

5) After receiving the respondent’s statement, the CSM chair and secretary have 10 days to ask clarificatory questions or request additional information from either party, and to appoint a hearing panel consisting of the chair and four members of the core CSM. The panel members will receive a copy of the complaint and response and will withdraw if their relationship to the parties involved or other circumstances lead them to believe that they cannot judge the matter fairly. The secretary will write to the complainant and the respondent providing the names of the panel members and informing them of their right to object to the participation of a panel member. Any objection must be submitted in writing within two days of the secretary’s notification and must state the grounds for the belief that the panel member is incapable of fairly judging the matter. The CSM chair will decide if the objection is justified, and that decision is final. Parties have the same opportunity to object to any replacement panel member.

6) Once the panel is assembled, the complaint and the response and all documents relating to the complaint will be provided to the hearing panel and the parties. The panel will convene (virtually or in person) within 10 calendar days to interview the complainant, respondent, and other relevant parties. The panel may examine and take into account reports and evidence collected by law enforcement bodies or other investigators as well as the respondent’s previous formal discipline for other acts of sexual misconduct by the AJS CSM or other comparable bodies, including written reprimands. Previous accusations of sexual misconduct may not be taken into account when determining culpability for a violation.

7) The panel will determine whether the respondent has violated AJS policy, giving an affirmative answer if it is satisfied that a violation has been shown by a preponderance of the evidence. The panel may find violations in addition to those charged; the respondent will be notified of them and will have an opportunity to respond. The panel will reach its conclusion by a majority vote and by secret ballot with no abstentions allowed.

8) If a respondent is found to have violated AJS policy, the panel will recommend a penalty taking into account the nature of previous penalties assessed for similar violations. The panel will reach its conclusion regarding a penalty by a majority vote and by secret ballot with no abstentions allowed. At the penalty stage, the panel may take into account any other disciplinary history that may have been previously imposed on the respondent by the AJS.

9) Penalties range from temporary or permanent revocation of the ability to participate in AJS-sponsored events (in the case of both members and affiliates), to temporary or permanent revocation of the various privileges of AJS membership or AJS membership itself (in the case of members). These privileges include but are not limited to full or partial participation in AJS-sponsored conferences, events, programs, and activities; holding office or a position of responsibility in the AJS; publication in any or all of the AJS’s publication venues.

10) Within 10 days of the hearing, the CSM chair and secretary will produce a written report with its findings, based on the information provided by and known to the complainant, respondent and other relevant parties, and its recommendations, and will submit the report to the AJS Executive committee.

11) Within 7 days of receiving the report, the Executive Committee will convene (virtually or in person) to discuss the report. The Executive Committee may consult with the CSM chair and secretary regarding the panel’s conclusions and recommendations and must do so if they are contemplating materially modifying or rejecting the panel’s conclusions or recommendations. In any event, the Executive Committee will render a decision within 10 days of receiving the report and provide written notice of their findings to the complainant and respondent. The decision will set out the committee’s conclusions and the penalties imposed if any. The complainant is entitled to know any penalty imposed that may affect the complainant directly (e.g., a prohibition on contacting the complainant).

12) All AJS members and affiliates, including complainants and respondents, are expected to respect confidentiality and to engage in the dispute resolution process in good faith. Retaliation against either party or against the committee for seeking to uphold the policy or follow the procedure against sexual misconduct will not be tolerated and may result in additional sanctions.

Below is a summary of the time periods that generally apply to the review of a formal complaint. The CSM chair may extend a time period for good cause. The parties will be informed by the chair if a time period is extended, and the chair’s decision is final.

CSM chair and secretary complete prima facie review of complaint, inform complainant of result and, if accepted, inform respondent of complainant and formal procedures

Within 10 days after receiving complaint

Respondent submits a response to the complaint

Within 14 days after delivery of complaint to respondent

Parties may object to panel members in a formal complaint

Within 2 days after notification of panel members’ names

CSM chair appoints a panel and supplies panel members with documentation

Within 10 days after receiving the respondent’s response to the complaint

Panel convenes to interview the parties and consider the complaint

Within 10 days after the appointment of the panel

CSM chair and secretary submits written report of the panel’s conclusions and recommendations to the AJS Executive Committee

Within 10 days after reaching agreement by majority vote on a conclusion and recommendation

Executive Committee convenes to review the report

Within 7 days after receiving the panel report

Executive Committee renders a decision

Within 10 days after receiving the panel report

Executive committee informs complainant and respondent of its conclusion and appropriate remedies

Within 5 days of rendering decision

D) Immediate Interim remedies regarding conduct at an AJS-sponsored event:

The possibility of immediate interim measures exists to allow a response in real time to defuse a potential harmful situation until further investigation can be undertaken. Complaints made regarding sexual harassment or sexual misconduct during an AJS-sponsored event, program, or activity may be brought to an AJS Ombuds Team member, the CSM chair or CSM secretary, or directly to the AJS president or Executive Director. A list of Ombuds Team members with photographs and contact details may be found on the AJS website, in conference registration and program materials, on the conference app, and will be available at the registration booth.

Complainants may discuss their concerns with an Ombuds Team member, CSM chair or secretary, or AJS president or Executive Director who will review available options. The AJS president in consultation with the CSM chair and/or secretary has the authority to implement immediate measures to address the allegations of sexual misconduct onsite, including exclusion of the person alleged to have violated the AJS policy on sexual harassment from scheduled panels, and expulsion from the meeting.

Concerns regarding sexual misconduct at AJS events may be brought to the attention of the designees above by any individual. Complainants who wish to avail themselves of the formal complaint process herein must be dues-paying members of the AJS or persons affiliated with an AJS-sponsored program or activity (e.g., conference exhibitor, observer, recruiter). Individuals or groups who have observed conduct that may violate the sexual misconduct policy but who are not themselves subjects of the conduct may bring their concerns to the Ombuds Team but may not file a complaint.

Statement on Confidentiality

The CSM and all members of the AJS involved in a matter before the CSM will treat the work of the Committee, including materials that the Committee may acquire from the parties, as confidential (i.e., not shared beyond the relevant Committee members), except from the AJS Executive Committee and from any party to whom the Executive Committee decides, in order to effectively respond to the complaint, to release information, unless disclosure is required by law. A penalty may be imposed by the AJS on any member or affiliate who discloses CSM documents in violation of these procedures or who is responsible for the improper disclosure of such documents by others. The CSM may not be able to preserve the confidentiality of its records in the event of litigation. Confidential communications with AJS officials, including to the Ombuds Team Members, are subject to legal discovery.

Under the AJS’s policies, sexual activity requires affirmative consent, which is defined as positive, unambiguous, and voluntary agreement to engage in specific sexual activity throughout a sexual encounter. Consent cannot be inferred from the absence of a “no;” a clear “yes,” verbal or otherwise, is necessary. Consent to some sexual acts does not constitute consent to others, nor does past consent to a given act constitute present or future consent. Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time.

Consent cannot be obtained by threat, coercion, or force. Agreement under such circumstances does not constitute consent. Consent cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated due to alcohol, drugs, or some other condition. A person is mentally or physically incapacitated when that person lacks the ability to make or act on considered decisions to engage in sexual activity. Engaging in sexual activity with a person whom you know—or reasonably should know—to be incapacitated constitutes sexual misconduct.