Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy

Last Updated February 18, 2020

Vegan Outreach offers this policy freely to other organizations in need of a template for their own non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

Respect in the Workplace

Vegan Outreach is committed to providing a safe working environment for all its employees, staff members, apprentices, contractors, and volunteers, and recognizes every individual’s inherent dignity. This means we will operate a zero-tolerance policy where we believe in providing and maintaining a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment. In addition to complying with all non-discrimination laws in each of the countries in which we work, the goal of this policy is to help create a culture where every individual is treated with respect.

All allegations of discrimination or harassment will be taken seriously, and there will be no retaliation for making such allegations. Complaints will be kept as confidential as reasonably possible and records will be kept in a confidential file. If anyone covered by this policy is found to have harassed or discriminated against another, they will face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from Vegan Outreach.

Vegan Outreach recognizes that harassment, particularly sexual harassment, can be a manifestation of power relationships. And while it most often occurs by an individual who holds power over another individual, it 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. 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.

Definitions

Discrimination is the differential treatment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or any other factor that is legislatively protected in the country in which you work (“Protected Classes”). Discrimination is illegal in work-related decisions including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. Vegan Outreach further defines discrimination as differential treatment with regard to work-related decisions based on any characteristics outside of professional qualifications.

Harassment is unwelcome conduct including physical, verbal, and nonverbal behaviors, and results in a hostile environment. Harassment is illegal when unwelcome conduct is related to any of the Protected Classes, 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.

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 email, chat, text, phone calls, and virtual meetings.

A Complainant is the person who allegedly experienced harassment.

A Respondent is the person who allegedly committed the harassment.

A Designated Person is an employee, staff member, board member, mediator, or another professional who Vegan Outreach determines is qualified to receive and investigate discrimination and harassment complaints. Designated Persons at Vegan Outreach have been trained and also have an expert support system available to them at all times.

The names and contact information for Designated Persons are listed in Vegan Outreach’s Handbook for Employees.

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 an employee or staff member in the workplace that causes or could cause physical injury to the employee or staff member
  • Work interference or sabotage that prevents work from getting done
  • Comments that promote stereotyping of any of the Protected Classes
  • Comments related to an employee or staff member’s ethnic, racial, or religious affiliation, or their sexual orientation, gender, or age, that are publicly humiliating, offensive, threatening, or that undermine the employee or staff member’s role in a professional environment

Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct that is sexual in nature. Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Unwelcome physical contact including touching, patting, pinching, stroking, kissing, hugging
  • Sexual comments, stories, and jokes, including bragging about sexual prowess
  • Repeated and unwanted social invitations for dates or physical intimacy
  • The use of job-related threats or rewards to solicit sexual favors
  • Comments on an employee or staff member’s appearance or private life
  • Display of sexually explicit or suggestive material
  • Insults based on the sex or gender identity of the worker
  • Physical violence, including sexual assault
  • Sending sexually explicit messages
  • Sexually-suggestive gestures
  • Whistling
  • Leering

Staff Travel

Staff travel is outlined in Vegan Outreach’s Handbook for Employees. However, the policy on room sharing is worth noting here:

During business travel, no employee or staff member 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 or staff member must inform their supervisor if they’re uncomfortable rooming with a particular sex, gender, or person.

Implementation

  • Vegan Outreach will provide this policy to staff and apprentices.
  • Vegan Outreach will also provide this policy to volunteers and independent contractors as needed, specifically those who perform work for Vegan Outreach on an ongoing basis.
  • Staff and apprentices will sign the policy to indicate that they have read and understood it as a part of their introduction to working with Vegan Outreach.
  • It is the responsibility of every supervisor to ensure that all of their supervisees are aware of this policy.
  • Employees and staff members will be provided with regular training about harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
  • Designated Persons will report the number of incidents, their resolutions, and any recommendations to the Executive Director.
  • The Executive Director will report this information to the full Board of Directors.
  • The organization will regularly review the policy and make any changes needed.

Complaint Procedure

Self-Help

Those covered by this policy may attempt to resolve their concerns by direct communication with the person(s) engaging in unwelcome conduct. If the complainant feels comfortable doing so, communicate disapproval in clear terms to the person(s) whose conduct or comments are/have been offensive. Keep a written record of the date, time, details of the conduct, and witnesses, if any.

Designated Person Support and Intervention

For complainants who are not comfortable with self-help and believe they are victims of discrimination or harassment, or become aware of situations where such conduct may be occurring, they are encouraged to seek advice from and report these matters to a Designated Person. The Designated Person will assist the complainant directly in carrying out the following activities:

  • Record the dates, times, and facts of the incident(s).
  • Ensure that the complainant understands the procedure for resolving the complaint.
  • Discuss the next steps with the understanding that resolving the matter in this manner will not prevent the complainant from pursuing a formal complaint if they are not satisfied with the outcome.
  • Keep a confidential record of all discussions.
  • Ensure that the above is completed as promptly as possible.

If the alleged respondent is a Designated Person you should register your complaint with another Designated Person. Further, any respondent(s), regardless of their position within Vegan Outreach, will be excluded from administering and managing the investigation and resolution process (save and except for their involvement as a respondent).

Formal Complaint

If the complainant wants to make a formal complaint, or if previous attempts to resolve the matter don’t lead to a satisfactory outcome, they should inform their supervisor or a Designated Person. At the time of the formal complaint, the Designated Person who initially received the complaint will investigate the complaint under the guidance of an outside investigator. The investigation process will involve interviews of the complainant, the person(s) in question of unwelcoming conduct, and any witnesses named by either.

In the case that a Designated Person has a conflict of interest due to their relationship with the complainant or alleged harasser, or for another reason, they will turn the investigation over to another Designated Person.

Discipline

Disciplinary action for violations of this policy will take into consideration the nature and impact of the violations, and may include a verbal or written reprimand, a suspension (paid or unpaid), or termination of employment for cause as determined by Vegan Outreach. Similarly, deliberate false accusations are of equally serious nature and will also result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment for cause. Note, however, that an unproven allegation does not mean that the conduct did not occur or that there was a deliberate false allegation. It may simply mean that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

Witnessing Discrimination and Harassment

Each and every person is responsible for creating and maintaining a respectful workplace. As such, anyone who becomes aware of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, even if they are not directly involved, is expected to report the incident to a Designated Person.

Complaints Against Third Parties

Vegan Outreach recognizes that employees and staff members can be subject to harassment from a non-employee or non-staff member who supports or conducts business with Vegan Outreach, such as a donor, overnight host, contractor, consultant, or volunteer (“third party”). An employee or staff member who believes that they have been discriminated against or harassed by a third party is encouraged to file a complaint with a Designated Person.

Timeframe to Submit a Complaint

There is no time restriction on when to file a complaint about a discrimination or harassment incident, however early reporting and intervention are strongly encouraged so that Vegan Outreach can take appropriate action to prevent further harassment.

Conclusion

Since Vegan Outreach is fortunate to do work in many countries, this policy has attempted to contemplate all legislative matters related to discrimination and harassment in all countries where we work. That said, where we haven’t covered a particular legal protection herein, we will, of course, comply with all laws in all countries where we are active.

Vegan Outreach endeavors to grow and learn, providing room for improvement in writing and implementing this policy, in the hope that the activists associated with Vegan Outreach will contribute to a fair and respectful culture in the Animal Rights movement.