New York IYI Sexual Harassment Policy and Complaint Investigation Procedure
The objective of this policy is to define workplace sexual harassment, to set forth our beliefs about sexual harassment, and to outline procedures for filing, responding to, and investigating sexual harassment claims as well as for issuing appropriate disciplinary measures in the case of violations.
This policy applies to all board members, consultants, community advisers, employees, teachers, volunteers, residents, clients such as Spa clients, and service providers such as massage therapists. All parties, at every level, will be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge, for any violation of this policy. All employees et al. are prohibited from harassing others, both on and off the New York IYI premises and during or outside of work hours.
Integral Yoga, as a registered Yoga school under Yoga Alliance, also adheres to the Yoga Alliance Code of Conduct.
Defining Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment behavior is characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situations. It includes unwelcome conduct of a romantic or sexual nature that is persistent or offensive and interferes with an employee’s job performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment is defined by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when, for example, a) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, b) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting that individual, or c) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Integral Yoga also considers the persistent pursuit of asking out on dates, even after expressed refusals, to be a form of harassment.
Particularly in a Yoga setting, teachers are endowed with a certain level of authority, and it is critical that they manage their actions to recognize the power dynamic that exists. Feeling pressured by an authority figure, students, employees, and clients may tolerate unwelcome behavior that they would otherwise not endure. Likewise, employer/supervisor−employee relations must also be sensitive to similar power dynamics.
Sexual harassment can be physical and/or psychological in nature. An aggregation of incidents can constitute sexual harassment even if one of the incidents considered on its own would not be harassing.
Examples of prohibited conduct
Though sexual harassment encompasses a wide range of conduct, some examples of specifically prohibited conduct include the following:
- Physical assaults of a sexual nature, such as rape, sexual battery, molestation, or attempts to commit those assaults, and intentional physical conduct that is sexual in nature, such as touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, and brushing against another person’s body or poking another person’s body.
- Unwelcome sexual advances, propositions, or other sexual comments, such as sexually oriented gestures, noises, remarks, jokes, or comments about a person’s sexuality or sexual experience. These can include comments about a person’s physical appearance.
- Quid pro quo: preferential treatment or promises of preferential treatment to an employee for submitting to sexual conduct, including soliciting or attempting to solicit any employee to engage in sexual activity for compensation or reward.
- Subjecting or threats of subjecting an employee to unwelcome sexual or romantic attention or conduct or intentionally making performance of the employee’s job more difficult. Implying or inferring that future treatment will reflect the subject’s response to said unwelcome advances or comments
- Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere in the New York Integral Yoga Institute’s workplace by its employees, et al.
At Integral Yoga, our objective is to create a SAFE space in which people experience being respected, valued, treated with dignity, and honored for who they are. ANY AND ALL OF THE ABOVE violate that principle.
Romantic and/or Sexual Relationships
Managers and employees, service providers and clients, and teachers and students should not enter into a new romantic and/or sexual relationship during the course of the time they are in a professional relationship. In the case of a teacher, this should not happen during the time that the teacher is teaching that student at IYI or anywhere else. If feelings do develop, or if the parties mutually agree to move forward with a romantic and/or sexual relationship, they must end their professional relationship. If the relationship is a teaching one, the teacher must cease any and all teaching activities with the student and wait for at least 30 days before commencing the romantic relationship.
Retaliation for Sexual Harassment Complaints
Neither the person accused of sexual harassment nor any supervisors or employees are permitted to engage in retaliation for anyone’s complaining formally or informally. Any such retaliation is grounds for immediate dismissal. Likewise, after an investigation, if the person accused of harassment is cleared of any wrongdoing, no manager, board member, or employee, et al., is permitted to take any negative actions or speak in any negative manner against said person.
Making a Complaint of Harassment: Employees, Students, Clients, Volunteers, and Residents
If an employee, student, volunteer, or client feels that he or she is being subjected to sexual harassment, he or she may immediately inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and needs to stop.
If the inappropriate conduct does not cease, or if the employee, et al., is unable to address or is uncomfortable with addressing the alleged harasser directly, he or she should report the incident to his or her own supervisor, in the case of an employee, and to the executive director, in the case of a student, volunteer, client, or third-party provider of services to IYI.
The supervisor or executive director must then bring the complaint to the attention of the appointed representative. It is required that a written record of the date, time, and nature of the incident(s) and the names of any witnesses be provided.
It is important to report all concerns of sexual harassment or inappropriate sexual conduct to the appointed representative, via a supervisor/manager, as soon as possible.
The entire board must be made aware of the situation. The appointed representative will arrange to conduct an immediate and impartial investigation and take appropriate action so that the executive director and the board of directors can remediate the prohibited conduct or prevent it from continuing.
Managers and Supervisors
Managers and supervisors must deal expeditiously and fairly when they have any knowledge of sexual harassment within their departments, whether or not there has been a written or formal complaint. They must:
- Take all complaints or concerns of alleged or possible harassment seriously no matter how minor or who is involved
- Report all incidents to the executive director immediately so that a prompt investigation can occur
- Take any appropriate action to prevent retaliation or prohibited conduct from recurring during and after any investigations or complaints
Managers and supervisors who knowingly allow or tolerate sexual harassment or retaliation, including the failure to report such misconduct immediately to the appointed representative, are in violation of this policy and subject to discipline.
Board Responsibility for Responding to Complaints of Sexual Harassment
The board and its appointed representative are responsible for:
- Ensuring that both the individual filing the complaint (complainant) and the accused individual (respondent) are aware of the seriousness of a sexual harassment complaint.
- Explaining the New York Integral Yoga Institute’s sexual harassment policy and investigation procedures to all parties involved.
- If an aggrieved party feels that the sanctions contained within the IYI policy do not go far enough, that party should not hesitate to report such conduct to the police. There is no policy contained within these guidelines that prohibits, prevents, or deters an injured party from reporting the incident to the appropriate legal authorities.
- Exploring informal means of resolving sexual harassment complaints, if appropriate, such as speaking to the complainant and respondent in order to clarify honest misunderstandings.
- Assigning a new manager during the investigation, if the complainant is filing a complaint about his or her manager, and doing whatever is necessary to ensure that the complainant is not under duress before, during, or after the investigation.
- Using a trained and impartial outside party to investigate the alleged harassment in the event that the allegation is made against a sitting board member or others with whom the board has close personal ties, requiring the preparation of a written report and recommendations to be submitted to the board.
- Notifying the complainant and the respondent of the corrective actions, if any, to be taken and executing those actions.
Complaint Resolution Procedures
- Complainant goes to the supervisor, executive director, or appointed representative to lodge a complaint
- Notification of the complaint is given in writing or orally to the board and its appointed representative
- Complainant should describe the incident(s) in written or in oral form stating the following (if oral, the appointed representative needs to document the complainant’s comments):
- The name, department, and position of the person or persons allegedly committing harassment.
- A description of the incident(s), including the date(s), location(s), and presence of any witnesses, described in behavioral terms, that is, what the person accused of harassment actually said or did.
- The effect of the incident(s) on the complainant: If that person is an employee, the ability to perform his or her job or fulfill other terms or conditions of his or her employment in a safe environment; if a student, client, or volunteer, having a safe and positive experience with the New York IYI.
- What, if any, steps the complainant has taken to address the harassment.
- Any other information the complainant believes to be relevant to the harassment complaint.
- Complaints should be submitted as soon as possible after an incident has occurred, preferably in writing. Complaints related to events months or years in the past are potentially more subjective and may be more difficult to investigate.
- The appointed representative will ensure that a documented record of the complaint is created and maintained in a file at the New York IYI in the executive director’s office.
After the Complaint Is Filed
The appointed representative will cause the complaint to be investigated by interviewing the complainant(s), the person(s) accused of the harassment, others who may also have been harassed, and relevant witnesses.
In the case of an employee, the manager will be informed of the investigation and interviewed. In the case of a student, volunteer, client, resident, or service provider, the teacher coordinator, volunteer coordinator, ashram manager, or manager of the service provider will also be informed about the investigation.
All care should be given to the complainant. The complainant will be informed of the result of the investigation and board determination of the appropriate action as a result of the investigation.
After the investigation, employees, teachers, volunteers, service providers, residents, or others over whom we have control who have been determined to have violated this policy are subject to appropriate discipline. If an investigation results in evidence that this policy has been violated, the mandatory minimum discipline is a written reprimand. Discipline may include termination of employment/service.
The same is true for teachers, volunteers, residents, and service providers, paid or not, who have been found in violation of this policy.
All complaints and investigations are treated confidentially, and information is disclosed strictly on a need-to-know basis. It may be necessary to disclose the individual’s name to the person accused and other witnesses in order to investigate properly; however, the utmost attention to confidentiality will be maintained. All information pertaining to a sexual harassment complaint or investigation is maintained in a secure location at the New York IYI.
This policy is a living document that will be amended from time to time as we live and learn under it.