Sexual Harassment Grievance ProcedureAt its November 1996 meeting the AAR Board of Directors adopted a policy condemning sexual harassment in academic settings. At its April 1998 meeting the Board approved a Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure.
The AAR's Status of Women in the Profession Committee formulated the procedure. In announcing the procedure for the membership, Emilie Townes, chair of the Committee, said "The Sexual Harassment Policy of the American Academy of Religion is designed to foster and maintain an environment of rigorous scholarship and professional excellence. Such an environment cannot be achieved when sexual harassment is present. The Policy is a clear and unambiguous statement against sexual harassment and it also provides resources for understanding and combating unprofessional and dehumanizing conduct. The Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure provides an equitable mechanism to implement the sexual harassment policy of AAR. The Procedure seeks to provide confidentiality and a fair procedure for all parties involved. It, along with the Sexual Harassment Policy, provides the membership of AAR with a clear statement concerning sexual harassment, resources that are educational in helping combat it, and a procedure for the Academy to address any cases that may arise from official activities of AAR. Together, the Policy and Grievance Procedure, help AAR create and maintain the highest standards of professional conduct and academic freedom in our mutual pursuit of excellence in scholarship."
The Grievance Committee has primary responsibility for interpretation of the AAR Sexual Harassment Policy, for the evaluation of complaints brought under it, and for recommendations to the Board of Directors pertinent to such complaints. The Grievance Committee will review those cases arising out of formally constituted activities of the AAR and for which it is the most appropriate forum, if it considers the matter important to the profession, and if it deems the AAR's resources to be adequate to yield a fair judgment. The Grievance Committee will not accept complaints it deems capricious or principally vindictive, and, except in unusual circumstances, it will not pursue a case while the dispute is pending in another forum. Review of a complaint by the Grievance Committee should not be regarded as substitute for legal action.
Composition of the Grievance CommitteeThe Grievance Committee should have direct lines of accountability to the AAR Board of Directors and the membership. It should be representative of the diversity of the member of AAR and avoid unnecessary bureaucratization.
- President Elect
- Vice President
- SWP Chair
- Secretary or Student Director in cases that involve a student
No person who has been accused in the complaint will participate in the investigation or resolution of the complaint.
- If any member of the Grievance Committee is named in the complaint, he or she is replaced by an appointment from the President. If the President is named in the complaint, the President Elect appoints a replacement for the President.
- If someone comes forward with a complaint against the Executive Director, that complaint should be directed to the AAR President who will replace the Executive Director in her/his role as investigator and/or member of the Grievance Committee.
- The complainant should present the complaint as promptly as possible
with the Executive Director after the alleged harassment occurs.
Failure to present a complaint promptly may preclude recourse to legal
procedures beyond the jurisdiction of the AAR should the complainant
decide to pursue such action at a later date.
- The initial discussion between the complainant and the Executive Director should be kept confidential, with no written record.
- The Executive Director has the authority to make a good faith effort to resolve the complaint through informal processes at this stage. There may be cases that can be resolved through efforts of mediation and for which the alleged offender apologizes for her/his actions.
- If the complainant, after the initial discussion with the Executive Director, decides to proceed, the complainant should submit a written statement to the Executive Director.
- The Executive Director then informs the alleged offender of the allegation and of the identity of the complainant in writing. A copy of this is sent to the complainant. Efforts should be made to protect the complainant from retaliatory action by the person(s) named in the complaint.
- The Executive Director alerts the Grievance Committee that a complaint has been filed and promptly calls a meeting of the Committee. Each member of the Committee shall receive a copy of the written statement of the complaint.
- The Grievance Committee may vote to either accept the complaint for full review or decline to consider the complaint. The Grievance Committee will base its decision on its judgment of its capacity to handle the matter in light of its resources and competence; the seriousness of the complaint; the degree to which the complaint alleges specific violations of the AAR Sexual Harassment Policy; the likelihood that the AAR will be able to make a positive contribution to resolving the problem; the availability of a more suitable forum, such as a university grievance procedure or the AAUP. If the Committee decides to decline consideration of the complaint, it will submit an explanation in writing to the complainant and the alleged offender.
- The Executive Director will gather all facts pertinent to the
allegations of the complaint.
- The investigation will be conducted promptly and objectively.
- The investigation will include statements by the complainant(s), person(s) accused, and others as necessary.
- The Grievance Committee has the following options:
- If the Committee concludes that on the basis of the investigation insufficient evidence of harassment exists to warrant any action, may close the investigation and so notify the complainant and alleged offender in writing.
- If the Committee concludes on the basis of the investigation
that sexual harassment has occurred the following disciplinary
actions may be taken:
- Letter of reprimand to the offender.
- Training and education regarding sexual harassment and appropriate and inappropriate behaviors with documentation to the Committee that this training has been completed. Failure to comply may result in the rescinding of membership.
- Rescinding of membership in the AAR for a duration deemed appropriate by the committee.
- Repeat offenders are subject only to disciplinary action 3.
- Every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality throughout the process, but total confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. The Grievance Committee will protect the privacy of both the complainant and persons accused in every way possible during the process of the complaint and thereafter.
- The AAR prohibits any form of retaliation against any member or employee of AAR filing a complaint against a member. Any retaliatory action of any kind taken against a complainant under this procedure is prohibited and will be the basis for a separate complaint subject to disciplinary action by the Grievance Committee.
- If, after investigating a complaint the Grievance Committee determines that a complainant knowingly made a false complaint or knowingly provided false information regarding a complaint, the Committee may decide that disciplinary actions, as above, are warranted.
- The decision of the Grievance Committee is final.