Code of Conduct - Call for Congress

Code of Conduct

SEXUAL HARASSMENT & ABUSE REPORTING POLICY

MISSION STATEMENT

The Sexual Harassment & Abuse Reporting Policy, or SHARP for short, aims to protect all people within our organizing spaces from unwanted sexual advances, harassment, and abuse. We also want to provide clear and direct guidelines for reporting these types of incidents.

In this document, we will outline how we handle claims, and go over the steps to help any victims recover; both as individuals and organizing communities.

We, the Committee to Elect Jason Call, refuse to tolerate harassment in our organizing spaces in any incarnation; our community culture is based upon mutual respect, agency, and team collaboration. Any form of harassment is a deep violation of those principles.

PERSONS COVERED BY “SHARP”

This policy applies to every person in our organizing community, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, level, function, seniority, status or other protected characteristics. Not only are we all required to comply with this policy, we will enforce these guidelines in these community spaces.

We do not condone or tolerate harassment from inside or outside of the campaign. Employees, contractors, volunteers, and supporters; i.e. everyone interacting with our campaign and within our organizing spaces is covered by the present policy.

POLICY OUTLINE

WHAT IS HARASSMENT?

Harassment has many forms of variable seriousness. A person is harassing someone when they:

  • Invade another person’s personal space (e.g. inappropriate touching.)
  • Stalk, intimidate, coerce or threaten another person.
  • Send or display sexually explicit objects/messages, or send/display threatening objects/messages.
  • Comment on someone’s looks, dress, sexuality or gender in a derogatory or objectifying manner, or a manner that makes them uncomfortable.
  • Make obscene comments, jokes or gestures that are designed to humiliate or offend someone.
  • Pursue or flirt with another person persistently without the other person’s willing participation.
  • ADDITIONALLY; Flirting with someone at an inappropriate time (i.e. during an organizing meeting) is considered sexual harassment, even when these advances might have been welcome in a different setting. This is because such actions can harm a person’s professional reputation and expose them to further harassment.

The most extreme forms of harassment are sexual or physical assault. These are serious crimes, and our campaign will support those who want to press charges against offenders.

WHAT IS ABUSE?

Abuse is always considered a serious offense. Abusive behaviors are characterized by:

  • Repetition (occurs regularly)
  • Duration (is enduring)
  • Escalation (increasing aggression)
  • Power disparity (the targeted individual lacks the power to successfully defend themselves)
  • Attributed intent

This distinguishes abuse from isolated behaviors and other forms of occupational stress, and allows the term abuse to be applied in various contexts and to behaviors that meet these characteristics. Many observers agree that abuse is often a repetitive behavior.

Those who are found to have committed repeated acts of abuse will be immediately ejected from our organizing spaces. We do not protect abusers, nor welcome them into our spaces.

THE BOTTOM LINE

  • No one has the right to harass or abuse our employees, contractors, organizers, or volunteers. Any person in our organizing spaces found to have committed of serious harassment will be barred from future participation in our spaces, whether they are staff, volunteer, or otherwise.
  • Harassment and abusive behavior is never too minor to be dealt with. Any kind of harassment can wear folks down and create a hostile organizing space. We will hear every claim and take corrective action against offenders appropriately.
  • Harassment is about how we make others feel. Many do not consider behaviors like flirting or sexual comments to be sexual harassment, thinking they are too innocent to be labeled that way. The same can be said for teasing or remarks made in jest between peers; but, if something you do makes your fellow organizers uncomfortable, or makes them feel unsafe, you must stop.
  • We listen to victims of harassment and abuse, and always conduct our investigations properly. Occasional false reports do not undermine this principle.
  • We will not allow further victimization of impacted individuals. We will fully support those who were harassed or abused, and will not take any adverse action/retaliation against them. Continued community support is CRUCIAL. Peer to peer counseling will be offered to these individuals as a means to promote healing; both within the harassed individual, and the associated community they organize within.
  • Those who support or overlook harassment or abuse are as much at fault as offenders. Staff, Organizers, and Moderators are especially obliged to prevent these toxic interactions, and act when they have suspicions or receive reports. Letting this behavior go on or encouraging it will bring about disciplinary action. Anyone who witnesses an incident of harassment or abuse within our organizing spaces, no matter the offender, should follow the reporting process outlined in the next section of this document..

HOW TO REPORT

If you are being harassed or abused (or suspect another person is), you can disclose to any person in a leadership role; ALL of the people who assume these roles are trauma informed, and trained on how to report your issue.

In serious cases like sexual/physical assault, please call the police and inform the campaign or appropriate parties that you plan to press charges so that we can SUPPORT YOU. We acknowledge it’s often hard to come forward about these issues, but we need your help to build a fair and safe organizing space for you and your fellow organizers.

If you want to report harassment within our campaign, there are two options:

  • Ask for an urgent meeting with any member in a leadership role. This will take place digitally so that we can maintain an ongoing record of events. Once in the meeting, explain the situation in as much detail as possible. If you have any evidence of the wrongdoing (i.e. emails, screenshots, etc.), forward it, or bring it with you to the meeting.
  • Send your complaint via email to contact@callforcongress.com with “SHARP” somewhere in the subject line. If you have any evidence (i.e. emails, screenshots, etc.), attach it to the email before sending. The Staff will contact you, and help you work through your issue from there.

Additionally; if you report any assault to the police, our campaign and associated organizing communities will provide any possible support until the matter is resolved. In any case, we will ensure you are not victimized and that you have access to relevant evidence admissible in court, like any existing security video footage, or emails (within reasonable legal limits to prevent revealing confidential information about uninvolved individuals.)

INADVERTENT HARASSMENT OR ABUSE

Sometimes, people who harass or display abusive behaviors towards others do not realize that their behavior is wrong. We understand this is possible, but that doesn’t make the perpetrator any less responsible for their actions.

If you suspect that someone doesn’t realize their behavior is harassment or abuse under the definition of this policy, let them know directly and ask them to stop. Do so preferably via email or text application so you can have records.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Those who are found to have committed of any form of assault will be terminated after the first complaint and investigation.

Those who are found to have committed intentional harassment or abuse (but not assault) the first time may:

  • Be reprimanded and required to re-take our internal harassment training, and obligated to get officially certified in workplace harassment training, at their own personal expense, before resuming activity within our community.
  • Be permanently ejected from our organizing spaces, depending on the severity of the behaviors, and the will of the impacted individual(s). It is a case by case basis.

We may also transfer harassers or take other appropriate action to protect their victims. We will terminate repeat offenders after the second claim against them if our investigation concludes they have committed the offense.

We apply these disciplinary actions uniformly. Individuals of any sexual orientation or other legally-protected characteristics will be penalized the same way for the same offenses.

LEADERSHIP ACCOUNTABILITY

First and foremost, our leadership, organizers, supporters, and moderators should try to prevent harassment and abuse by building a culture of respect and trust. However, when either occurs and someone makes a complaint, leadership must act immediately in good faith.

The individual receiving the complaint should explain our procedures to the person who made the complaint to alleviate the anxiety of reporting and provide clarity on the timeline of action taken.

When they receive a complaint that someone is being harassed, they will:

  • Ask for as many details and information as possible from the person or people making the complaint.
  • Keep and maintain copies of the report with dates, times and details of incidents and any possible future legal evidence in a confidential document. This file should be updated with all future actions and conversations regarding this complaint.
  • Launch an investigation. If the matter is complex, there may be need to directly involve higher staff or, in the event the complaint is against staff, an independent third-party agency.
  • Check if there have been similar reports on the same person. If there are, contact the perpetrator’s team lead to let them know that their team member may be terminated once the investigation is over.
  • Inform the harassed/abused individual of our campaign’s procedures and their options to take legal action if appropriate.
  • Take into account the wishes of the harassed/abused individual. Some might want the matter to be resolved informally and discreetly, while others might expect more radical actions (e.g. expelling the perpetrator from organizing spaces.) Those investigating should consider the circumstances and impacts on involved individuals and the community at large, and decide on appropriate action.
  • Contact the harasser/abuser and set up a meeting to explain the complaint and explicitly ask for this behavior to stop, or,
  • Arrange for mediation sessions with the two individuals (harasser/abuser and harassed/abused) to resolve the issue, if the harassed individual agrees or,
  • Launch a disciplinary process depending on the severity of the harassment or abuse. In cases of assault or coercing someone under threat, we will expel the harasser/abuser immediately from our campaign/organizing spaces.

Representatives of our campaign cannot under any circumstances, blame the victim, conceal a report, or discourage anyone from reporting harassment or abuse. If anyone in our spaces misbehaves in that way, please send an email/text to a higher staff member, an organizing leader, or email contact@callforcongress.com explaining the situation.

We welcome any feedback or complaints about our procedures and how our folks handle each case. Safety is our #1 priority, but we recognize that closure and community healing are also important!

COMMUNITY HEALING

Apart from investigating claims, we want to support the victims of harassment and abuse. If you experience trauma, stress or other symptoms because of harassment or abuse, we are here for you. Please consider utilizing any (or all) of these options/suggestions:

  • Take a break from our organizing spaces to recharge and reset.
  • Speak honestly with a friend or loved one about your trauma/experience.
  • Seek support and affirmation from your peers within our organizing spaces; you’re not a burden!

Your role with the campaign, and within our organizing communities, will not be jeopardized or altered if you choose any of those options or other means to recovery.

WE ALWAYS LISTEN

Harassment & abuse can exhaust those who endure it. Speaking up about this issue is often tough for fear of not being heard, upsetting leadership or community members, damaging the movement’s reputation, and challenging societal norms or culture.
Please don’t let these fears deter you. We will do everything in our power to prevent and stop harassment, abuse, and any other kind of toxic structure in its tracks; all while supporting the impacted individuals.

We need to know what’s going on so we can act on it, and heal our traumatized communities from the inside out. We know what it’s like to not be believed, and we would never put that sort of burden on our community members.