The objective of this policy is to define workplace sexual harassment, our beliefs about sexual harassment, and to outline procedures for filing, responding to, and investigating sexual harassment claims as well as issuing appropriate disciplinary measures in the case of violations.
This policy applies to all board members, clergy, consultants, community advisors, employees, teachers, volunteers, residents, and clients. Anyone who provides services to or receives services from the NY IYI is subject to these same standards.
All parties, at every level, will be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge, for any violation of this policy. All employees, etc. are prohibited from harassing others both on and off the NY IYI premises and during or outside of work hours.
The Board and any and all organizational leadership including, department supervisors, prioritize safety for everyone. IYINY will treat any and all grievances or reports of possible violation of sexual misconduct as a potential serious violation of Yoga ethics, trust, security and safety and will follow through with outlined procedures and appropriate actions.
All paid employees, volunteers, regular teachers and committee and board members are required to take annual sexual harrassment training.
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 setting; including but not limited to digital platforms. It includes unwelcome conduct of a 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 such 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.
Sexual harassment encompasses a wide range of conduct between individuals including LGBTQIA+ and non-binary. Sexual harassment can be explicit or implicit. Types of harassment include:
- Verbal harassment; such as offensive remarks or jokes
- Physical touch or harassment; physical assaults of any sexual nature, and unsolicited touch to any body part
- Psychological harassment; threatening another person with hostility, unwilling, unwanted, abusive behavior through physical or verbal action. Unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance
- Emotional harassment; Body shaming or using power dynamics to affect another’s dignity, personal integrity and confidence
- Sexual, discriminatory, or pornographic displays or publications used anywhere by employees
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.
Power dynamics can play out anywhere, particularly in a Yoga setting. Teachers are imbued 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 which they otherwise would not endure. Similarly, employer-supervisor/employee relations must also be careful of power dynamics.
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 these assaults, and intentional physical conduct that is sexual in nature, such as touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, brushing against another employee’s body or poking another employee’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. This can include comments about a person’s physical appearance.
▪ Quid pro quo: Preferential treatment or promises of preferential treatment from, for example, a manager or senior employee to an employee or student for submitting to sexual conduct, including soliciting or attempting to solicit any employee to engage in sexual activity for compensation or reward.
▪ 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 NY Integral Yoga Institute’s workplace by its employees.
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 example behaviors violates that goal.
Integral Yoga also considers the persistent pursuit of asking out on dates, even after expressed refusals, to be a form of harassment.
Romantic and/or Sexual Relationships
If two employees want to enter into a consensual romantic relationship and one of them is in a supervisory position over the other, one of them must vacate or change their roles at the institute.
In the case of a Teacher, they should not enter into a romantic relationship during the time that the Teacher is teaching that student at IYI.
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 a teaching relationship, the Teacher must cease any and all teaching activities with the student. It is suggested that the teacher and student wait at least 30 days before commencing the romantic relationship.
If any staff, teacher, or board member enters into a consensual romantic relationship with a student, client, or volunteer, or two people at the IYI, paid or unpaid staff, teachers, managers and board members enter into a consensual romantic relationship, they are required to disclose their relationship to the highest level person’s supervisor who will determine if there is any conflict of interest in the relationship.
Consenting relationships between two co-workers, two staff members in different departments, two students, and a teacher or staff member and student between whom no professional power differential exists and which are welcomed by both parties involved are not subject to these guidelines.
If somone perceives a sexual misconduct incident(s) has occurred
If there is a perceived violation of this policy and the person has not yet decided to file a formal report about potential violation, we strongly encourage them to have a confidential conversation with a member of the Critical Care Team/Safety Coordinator to talk through the incident and its impact.
Making a Report of Possible Harassment: Employees, Students, Clients, Volunteers and Residents
IYINY’s top priority is the safety and well-being of our entire community and thus we’ve taken measures to create a system of support which includes formal support from the Ombudsperson and Safety Coordinator.
Reporting acts of sexual harassment, harm, assault, violence, or stalking allows the victim to be supported and move towards healing measures. By making an official report, the Ombudsperson can then take immediate steps to investigate the incident(s) and prevent recurrence and protect and care for our entire community.
If an employee, student, teacher, volunteer, resident 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 etc. is unable to or 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 and in any case to the Safety Coordinator.
The supervisor or Executive Director must then bring the report of potential sexual harrassment to the attention of the Safety Coordinator. It is required to provide a written record of the date, time and nature of the incident(s) and the names of any witnesses.
Retaliation for reports of potential sexual harrasment
Neither the person accused of sexual harassment, nor any supervisors nor employees are permitted to engage in retaliation for raising a report of violation of policy. Retaliation is when an employer or organizational leader takes negative action against a person who files a formal report about potential discrimination or harassment. Any such retaliation is grounds for immediate dismissal.
The identity and role of the person filing a report of potential violation, and even the existence of a report, or speaking with the Safety Coordinator or Ombudsperson for guidance on whether or not to file a report of potential violation, shall remain confidential and kept anonymous from anyone else in the organization other than those who need to know based on the aforementioned policies and procedures.
The entire Board must be made aware of the situation, however, names are only shared as necessary. The Ombudsperson will arrange to conduct an immediate and impartial investigation and take appropriate action so the Executive Director and Board of Directors can remediate or prevent the prohibited conduct from continuing.
Roles and Responsibilities:
The Safety Coordinator (SC)
- The individual who has been sexually harrassed contacts the SC for information and assistance (IYI to provide a phone line).
- If possible and necessary, the SC conducts a brief “Triage Assessment” (urgent assessment to assign a degree of urgency to the situation) by phone, Zoom, or in person at a secure space at the IYI. If the caller states that they are physically injured, they will be referred to the local Emergency Room, Urgent Care, their personal physician, Safe Horizon Victim Services and or Pastoral care.
- During the full conversation, the SC creates a space which is supportive and non-judgmental.
- The SC informs the individual about the boundaries of the service and the process we follow. The SC communicates the meaning of terms such as “Legal vs Policy” as well as “Confidentiality”, and when names will be shared if the individual agrees to move ahead with a complaint.
- The SC utilizes a trauma-informed reflective approach to listen to and support individual feelings while gathering the basics of the incident(s).
- If the individual chooses to only “be heard” by the SC and not to continue with the process, they are informed that a description (no names included) will be shared with the Ombudsperson and the Executive Director for record keeping purposes. The individual may also change their mind at any time and choose to make a formal complaint.
- If the individual decides that they wish to proceed and speak with the Ombudsperson (OMB), the SC will reach out to the OMB as soon as reasonably practical and inform her/him that the next step in the process has been initiated and share previously gathered information.
- The SC may also need to answer questions from the Ombudsperson.
The Ombudsperson (OMB)
- The OMB is the point person after an individual has agreed to file a complaint of sexual harrassment and made contact with and received assistance, support and information from the SC.
- The OMB is responsible for collecting all written, verbal and electronic information (emails, voicemails, social media, etc.) relevant to the incident.
- The OMB continues to hold a safe and non-judgmental space for further dialogue and/or triage as they begin the more detailed investigation (including evidence, timelines, etc.). The individual will also be informed that they will no longer be anonymous once the investigation is complete.
- OMB remains neutral and objective throughout the investigation, placing their own emotions and personal opinions aside.
- OMB then becomes responsible for investigating all evidence, including interviewing witnesses, which may include ‘visitors’ (students, volunteers, or clients) and/or IYI employees.
- The OMB will then determine whether or not the incident actually violated IYI’s sexual harrasment policy
- If a policy violation occurred, the individual harmed will be advised of next steps which may include an offering of resources, such as places for further counseling, etc. They will also be informed that the Executive Director will receive a comprehensive report of the OMB’s findings pertaining to the incident.
The manager of the individual filing a report of violation must respond expeditiously and fairly if they have any knowledge of sexual harassment within IYI-NY. The manager of the individual:
- Must take seriously any and all concerns or requests to report incidents.
- Is responsible for communicating with the Safety Coordinator / Ombudsperson to discuss their initial assessment as well as provide any additional information required.
- Is responsible for responding in a timely manner and contacting the SC if the individual first brings the incident to the manager’s attention.
- Must take appropriate action to prevent retaliation or prohibited conduct from recurring during and after any investigation or report of potential violation. (See section on retaliation.)
- If the employee etc. goes directly to the SC or OMB to make the initial concern, if the employee agrees, the manager will be informed by the SC/OMB and reminded that the information is highly confidential.
- Managers who knowingly allow or tolerate sexual harassment or retaliation, including the failure to immediately report such misconduct to the Executive Director, are in violation of this policy and subject to discipline.
- Work with the Safety Coordinator and Ombudsperson to continually update the Sexual Harassment policy, process, and roles.
- Create an environment that has zero tolerance for sexual harassments.
- Provide the resources necessary for all staff and/or paid employees, volunteers, regular teachers and committee and board members to have annual sexual harrassment training.
- Review reports submitted by Ombudsperson and Safety Coordinator and take appropriate action.
- Ensure the Sexual Harassment policy, process, and roles are updated as needed.
- Create an environment that has zero tolerance for sexual harsassment.
- Create a system that facilitates the completion of annual sexual harrassment training by all employees, staff and Board Members
- Review reports submitted to the Board and monitor the actions taken by the ED
- Someone believes, or is even contemplating whether they have been injured either physically or emotionally.
- They reach out directly to the Safety Coordinator or they are referred to the Safety Coordinator (SC) by whoever they first speak with.
- The person then reaches out to the Safety Coordinator (SC) by email, phone or text.
- In the first conversation, SC conducts an initial brief high-level screening and if appropriate, based on the desires of the person feeling injured, sets up a more in-depth conversation.
- If the person feeling injured decides not to go any further, the nature of the incident (what, when, where and roles of involved parties) is reported to the ED and designated representative of the Board, by the SC without anyone’s names.
- If the person decides to go further, they are introduced to the Ombudsperson who conducts an initial introductory conversation, and collects preliminary information, and informs them that their name and the name of the person who potentially violated the policy will be held confidential, but it cannot be anonymous. The person who feels they were injured will be told that the ED will be informed of the incident as well as the final determination.
- ED is informed by the Ombudsperson about the incident including names. The board is informed about the incident without names during the investigation.
- The Ombudsperson conducts an investigation to determine if the policy was in fact violated. Investigation includes interviews with the parties involved, assessing the timeline of the event(s), and potentially reviews relevant electronic communications.
- The Ombudsperson discusses the conclusion about whether there was a violation with the ED. The Ombudsperson informs the person who believes they were injured of their determination and also notifies the person who is accused of causing the injury of that determination.
- ED determines the next steps which can include case-by-case actions, based on the specific situation, such as verbal and written reprimand, requiring the person causing the injury to go to additional training, and/or temporary or permanent removal from their role or participation in NY IYI activities.
- The Designated SH Board Rep is informed by the ED of the final determination who can inform the rest of the board stating that the party who caused the injury violated an important policy and the ED determined the consequences.
- The incident and final determination should not be discussed with anyone other than the parties described above.
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 and a requirement to go through training on our policies. Discipline may include termination of employment/service.
The same is true for teachers, volunteers, residents, service providers, paid or not, etc. who have been found in violation of this policy.
After an investigation, if the preponderance of the evidence does not support a determination of wrongdoing, then no manager, Board member, or employee etc., is permitted to take any negative actions, nor speak in any negative manner about said person.
Revised on 9-14-2022. This policy is a living document which will be updated periodically
If you have any questions, concerns or need to speak with someone directly, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.