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Report an Incident

Reporting an incident or participating in a sexual misconduct resolution procedure as a complainant or a respondent can be intimidating. This section of the website aims to make the process of reporting an incident or participating in a resolution procedure less intimidating by explaining what to expect when you make a complaint or are the respondent to a complaint, and what to expect at each stage of an AJS informal or formal procedure. If you have any questions, please contact the CSM chair, CSM secretary, an Ombuds Team member, the AJS President, or Executive Director.

Reporting an incident is best understood as an initial conversation that allows you to discuss your options and access resources without committing to any course of action. Whether you have experienced or witnessed an incident or behavior, you can begin the process of making a report to the AJS by contacting any of the CSM reporting members:

Ombuds Team members are often the first point of contact, but you can also contact the CSM chair or the CSM secretary with initial questions. In addition, the AJS President, or the AJS Executive Director can be contacted to begin the reporting process. These reporting options are not mutually exclusive. You can pursue any or all of them as you wish. It is not necessary to provide details in order to have a conversation with a reporting member about inappropriate behavior or to learn about the available resolution options.

Contact a Reporting Member of the AJS CSM

What to Expect

Reporting Members of the AJS CSM (usually the Ombuds Team members but also the CSM chair and secretary) as well as the AJS President and Executive Director will help you find answers your questions about the AJS informal and formal complaint processes and procedures, and learn about the options available to you.

If you contact an AJS CSM reporting member, you can expect to:

  • • Share as much or as little information as you would like.
  • • Learn about common reactions to sexual harassment, sexual assault, gender bias, stalking, trauma, and other related experiences.
  • • Be directed to an Ombuds Team member who can provide more detailed information about the resources available to you within the AJS, your rights, and resolution options.
  • • Make a holistic plan for managing and reducing the impact of this experience.

Working with the AJS CSM does not prohibit you from reaching out and working with the Title IX office of an educational institution or with law enforcement.

Please note that AJS CSM reporting members observe strict confidentiality with respect to the information they receive about a complaint. However, the CSM may not be able to preserve the confidentiality of its records in the event of litigation. Confidential communications with AJS officials, including the Ombuds Team members, are subject to legal discovery.

Seeking Information

Reporting members can let you know whether certain behaviors may fall under the AJS sexual misconduct policy and help you address any immediate concerns regarding your safety or well-being.

While you may contact any AJS CSM reporting member to seek information about the AJS sexual misconduct policy and resolution procedures, Ombuds Team members are often the best first point of contact and can provide the most detailed information and specific assistance.

An Ombuds team member will listen to you share as much as you want to about issues and experiences of sexual misconduct and the AJS. The Ombuds team member will try to be responsive and supportive and will provide information about resources and resolution options within the AJS, specifically the informal and formal complaint procedures. It is not necessary to provide details in order to have a conversation with an Ombuds Team member about the available resolution options. The Ombuds Team member will remain neutral and will not advocate any particular course of action. Should you choose an informal procedure or resolution process, the Ombuds Team member will work with you to implement that process.

Should you choose an informal procedure or resolution process, the Ombuds Team member will work with you to implement that process.

Bringing an Informal Complaint

Informal processes and resolution procedures are typically handled by an Ombuds Team member and/or the CSM chair and secretary depending on the procedure. Once any immediate concerns are addressed, the Ombuds Team member will discuss strategies and accommodations available to you to resolve any ongoing concerns. The Ombuds Team member will help you evaluate measures to enable you to continue your professional and educational activities in the context of the AJS.

There are three informal options that the Ombuds Team member can facilitate: archiving, accommodation, and mediation (the latter is conducted by the CSM chair assisted by the secretary and in consultation with the reporting Ombuds Team member where relevant). The respondent would be notified only in the case of mediation.

Archiving

You may be uncertain or undecided about how to proceed. You may not wish to request an accommodation or take any action on a complaint, but you may be concerned about the possibility of a further incident. In such a situation, archiving a complaint may be an appropriate step, offering a measure of reassurance and protection without foreclosing options in the future. If so, the Ombuds Team member can archive the complaint for you. The respondent will not be notified and the complaint will not be acted upon without your consent. Some respondents in some situations find that archiving a complaint provides an appropriate level of reassurance and protection.

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 your consent. No archived complaint will be taken into account as evidence by the CSM when adjudicating another complaint against the same respondent without your written consent and you would be notified that the respondent would learn the contents of the complaint and your identity. Archived complaints may also be taken into account in determining appropriate remedial measures in another complaint.

Accommodation

In addition to archiving, the Ombuds Team member can work with the CSM chair and secretary to provide accommodating measures that are responsive to your needs as appropriate and reasonably possible (such as requesting of AJS staff that you and the respondent not be assigned to the same conference panel or requesting of AJS Review editors that your 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. You may prefer accommodation if you do not wish to confront the respondent but also do not wish to be restricted in your ability to enjoy the benefits of AJS membership (participation in the conference and other AJS programs and activities) due to the inappropriate behavior of another member or affiliate.

Mediation

If you submit an informal complaint, you 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). You might opt for mediation because you want an inappropriate behavior to stop but for one reason or another are unable to successfully communicate that request to the respondent without assistance. Mediation typically begins with the CSM chair having a conversation with the respondent about their behavior and its impacts. This means that the respondent will be notified of your complaint and your identity by the CSM secretary (in coordination with the AJS Executive Director). The respondent is 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 you are willing to reveal the complaint (including your identity) to the respondent, the CSM chair and secretary. If you do not want the respondent to know of the complaint mediation is not the right solution. You should consider archiving or accommodation. The AJS procedures require that there be no direct or indirect contact between the parties for the duration of the mediation process.

You will be informed that participation in an informal resolution is voluntary and that you 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 you choose not to pursue the matter further within the AJS.

Note: Ombuds Team members do not conduct formal hearings nor do they directly impose penalties. In cases of sexual misconduct, penalties can be imposed only through the formal complaint process.

Responding to an Informal Complaint

The secretary of the AJS CSM will notify you if you are the subject of an informal complaint and will provide information about the AJS’s informal resolution process of mediation. The secretary will be available to you throughout the informal resolution process of mediation to answer any questions you might have.

Mediation typically begins with the CSM chair having a conversation with you about the behavior described in the complaint and its impacts on the complainant. You will be notified of the complainant’s identity. You 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 AJS procedures require that there be no direct or indirect contact between the parties for the duration of the mediation process. In some cases, a no-contact requirement may be continued even after the conclusion of a process of mediation. A violation of the no-contact requirement may result in disciplinary action. In addition, retaliation against any person who participates in an informal procedure is a violation of the AJS Sexual Misconduct policy and may result in disciplinary action.

Bringing a Formal Complaint

Penalties for violations of the AJS sexual misconduct policy can be imposed only through the formal complaint process. Formal complaints are received by the CSM secretary and heard by a panel consisting of the CSM chair and four core committee members. All formal hearings are attended by the CSM secretary.

A reporting member of the AJS CSM (an Ombuds Team Member, the CSM chair, the CSM secretary) as well as the AJS President or Executive Director can provide general information about the formal complaint process and the penalties that might be imposed in the event of a positive finding of sexual misconduct.

Once you understand the formal complaint process, you might begin with an exploratory conversation with the CSM chair, or you might move directly to file a complaint with the CSM secretary.

How do I file a formal complaint?

You may submit your complaint in writing a fax or email to the secretary of the AJS Committee on Sexual Misconduct. Include your name and AJS affiliation, the name and AJS affiliation of the respondent, and the date and location of the incident. You must 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, 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 complaint should be dated and signed; your name at the end of the email or letter is sufficient for a signature.

What happens after I file a formal complaint?

The CSM chair and secretary will review the complaint. If the facts alleged present a prima facie violation of the AJS Sexual Misconduct policy and if the parties have standing, the CSM chair will inform the respondent in writing that a formal complaint has been filed and will be heard by the CSM. The respondent will provide a written response to the committee. The CSM chair and secretary may ask clarificatory questions or request additional information from either party.

A hearing panel consisting of the chair and four core members of the Committee will review the complaint, the response, and associated materials, and determine whether the respondent has violated AJS policy. The panel will give an affirmative answer if it is satisfied that a violation has been shown by a preponderance of the evidence. If the respondent is found to have violated AJS policy, the panel will recommend a penalty.

The CSM chair and secretary will produce a written report with the panel’s findings and recommendations, and submit the report to the AJS Executive committee which will make a final decision regarding the findings and, in the case of a positive finding, the penalty to be imposed.

What penalties may be imposed for violation of the AJS sexual misconduct policy?

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.

How long does the process usually take?

The review of a formal complaint will typically take between 60 and 80 days. The CSM chair may extend a time period for good cause such as illness, holidays, the complexity of the allegations, or competing demands on CSM members or decision makers. The parties will be informed by the CSM secretary or chair if a time period is extended, and the chair’s decision regarding extensions will be final.

Will the parties be instructed not to contact each other?

The AJS procedures require that there be no direct or indirect contact between the parties for the duration of the formal process. In some cases, a no-contact requirement may be continued even after the conclusion of a formal process. A violation of the no-contact requirement may result in disciplinary action. In addition, retaliation against any person who participates in an informal procedure is a violation of the AJS Sexual Misconduct policy and may result in disciplinary action.

Responding to a Formal Complaint

Note: Parties to a formal hearing before the AJS Committee on Sexual Misconduct must be familiar with the AJS’s procedures. The information below is not intended as a substitute for the full AJS Sexual Misconduct procedures.

How will I know if a formal complaint is brought against me?

The secretary of the AJS CSM will notify you in writing if you are the subject of a formal complaint that will be heard by the Committee on Sexual Misconduct. 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 the AJS Sexual Misconduct procedures.

When you receive the complaint or soon thereafter, the secretary will offer to speak with you to review the steps of the formal hearing process and to explain broadly what you can expect at each stage. The secretary can speak with you about expectations of confidentiality, the timeline, the composition and role of the hearing panel and decision makers, and the steps involved in the appeal process. The secretary will be available to you throughout the formal hearing process to answer any questions you might have about the AJS’s formal complaint and hearing process.

What happens after I am notified of a formal complaint?

Upon receiving notice of the complaint, you will have 14 calendar days to provide a written response to the committee. The CSM chair and secretary may ask clarificatory questions or request additional information from either party.

A hearing panel consisting of the chair and four core committee members will review the complaint, the response, and associated materials, interview the parties, and determine whether you have violated AJS policy. The panel will give an affirmative answer if it is satisfied that a violation has been shown by a preponderance of the evidence. If you are found to have violated AJS policy, the panel will recommend a penalty.

The CSM chair and secretary will produce a written report with the panel’s findings and recommendations, and submit the report to the AJS Executive committee which will make a final decision regarding the findings and, in the case of a positive finding, the penalty to be imposed.

What penalties may be imposed for violation of the AJS sexual misconduct policy?

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.

How long does the process usually take?

The review of a formal complaint will typically take between 60 and 80 days. The CSM chair may extend a time period for good cause such as illness, holidays, the complexity of the allegations, or competing demands on CSM members or decision makers. The parties will be informed by the CSM secretary or chair if a time period is extended, and the chair’s decision regarding extensions will be final.

Will the parties be instructed not to contact each other?

The AJS procedures require that there be no direct or indirect contact between the parties for the duration of the formal complaint and hearing process. In some cases, a no-contact requirement may be continued even after the conclusion of a formal hearing. A violation of the no-contact requirement may result in disciplinary action. In addition, retaliation against any person who participates in a formal complaint and hearing process is a violation of the AJS Sexual Misconduct policy and may result in disciplinary action.

Seeking an Immediate Interim Response

If you are seeking an immediate response to an incident of sexual misconduct in real time during an AJS-sponsored event, program, or activity, you may contact an AJS Ombuds Team member, the CSM chair or CSM secretary, or the AJS President or Executive Director. The AJS president in consultation with the CSM chair and/or secretary has the authority to implement immediate measures to address an allegation of sexual misconduct onsite. At the annual conference, such measures include the exclusion of the person alleged to have violated the AJS policy on sexual harassment from a conference panel or other meeting, or expulsion from the conference. Similar measures may be adopted in other AJS fora or contexts.

Law Enforcement

Reporting an incident to the AJS CSM is not a substitute for reporting an incident to local law enforcement. It is also possible to speak to a police officer without filing a criminal report.

Pursuing a criminal complaint does not preclude you from seeking an informal or formal resolution within the AJS.

Retaliation

The AJS Sexual Misconduct procedures prohibit retaliation against individuals who report sexual misconduct, file complaints of sexual misconduct, cooperate in the investigation of sexual misconduct, serve on the Committee on Sexual Misconduct, or hear formal or informal complaints of sexual misconduct. This prohibition against retaliation protects complainants, respondents, and other persons who have provided or may provide information to the Committee. Penalties may be imposed upon members or affiliates who are found to have retaliated.

If you believe you have experienced retaliation, you should consult with a reporting member of the AJS CSM, the AJS President or the AJS Executive Director.

Expectation of Confidentiality

The AJS expects all participants in proceedings of the Committee on Sexual Misconduct to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings and any information obtained in and for the proceedings. The purpose of confidentiality is to encourage the co-operation and willing participation in the association’s informal and formal procedures in order to reach fair outcomes and create a better overall climate for the organization’s members and affiliates. If parties fear that their participation or the information they provide in a CSM proceeding could be revealed, then concerns about reputation, social tension, or retaliation may cause them to keep silent.

The AJS’s expectations and requirements in regard to confidentiality can be found in its Statement on Confidentiality.