Harassment Policy

As a professional organization dedicated to continued education and advocacy for epidemiologists in their efforts to promote good science and the public health, the American College of Epidemiology (ACE) seeks to provide an open, inclusive environment for all. Such an environment must be free from harassment, discrimination, or retaliation against individuals reporting such incidents.

Harassment is any form of intimidation or oppressive treatment, including physical, written or verbal threats, inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome sexual attention, and other activity that causes personal alarm or distress. The ACE will not tolerate harassment or other discrimination. Baseless complaints are not anticipated and are not acceptable. Retaliation against anyone filing a complaint is unacceptable. This policy applies to all attendees, students, guests, staff, contractors, exhibitors, and participants in any annual meetings, social events, or other sponsored ACE activities.

The ACE may immediately withdraw or deny access to ACE activities to any individual or entity engaging in harassing or discriminatory behavior without refund of registration fees or other costs. Offenders may also be sanctioned by exclusion from future ACE events and membership in the College can be revoked. If crimes are alleged, law enforcement will be contacted.

To report harassment in any ACE-associated event or venue, please contact Executive Director Sara-Becca Smith at [email protected] or any member of the current ACE Executive Committee or College leadership. Our priority will be to provide immediate assistance in securing safety for impacted individuals.  All complaints will be reviewed promptly and action will be swift.

Process

Situations where there has been an accusation of harassment are extremely sensitive and often complex. At all times, the emotional and physical safety of the complainant is paramount, and this may involve taking steps that are not outlined herein. In general, however, the following process should be taken:  

Complaint Received → Mediate and/or Investigate → Action → Appeal

Complaint: In order to make an official complaint, a complainant should contact the Executive Director. If the Executive Director is the focus of the complaint, the President of the College should be contacted. From here, there are three (3) possible actions:  

  1. No Action: The behavior is not found to be harassment, and the complainant agrees.

  2. Resolve: If the harassment is subtle or mild and the complainant agrees, the complaint is resolved informally with the assistance of appointed College leaders.

  3. Refer: If the complaint represents moderate or severe harassment or if the incident involves an abuse of power, then Executive Director notifies the President and Ethics Committee Chair and  the complaint is referred to mediation, investigation or, in extreme circumstances, law enforcement.

Mediate: The alleged harasser will be advised of the complaint, if this has not already happened. A mediator will be chosen by College leadership and confirmed provided the parties to the complaint agree. In the case where there is no agreement, alternative names will be considered. Mediation takes place and the situation is resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. If no agreement for either a name or process is secured, then the case is referred to investigation.  

Investigate: Where, for whatever reason, the complaint remains unresolved, then the complaint is referred to the Ethics Committee for investigation. A specific member of the committee will be appointed lead for the investigation.  

The investigator will conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation and provide a written report, including recommendations for action, to the Executive Board and Executive Director. The leadership will make a decision as to the appropriate action.  

Action

When considering the appropriate action, the leadership will consider the evidence, the nature of the harassment, whether physical contact was involved, whether the situation was isolated, and whether there was an abuse of power.  

Actions may include (depending on employee or volunteer):

  • Verbal or written apologies

  • A letter of reprimand or suspension

  • A referral to counseling

  • Demotion

  • Termination of employment, volunteer activity and/or membership

  • Referral to law enforcement or other legal authorities

  • Other sanctions

Appeal

Either the complainant or alleged harasser may, within thirty (30) days of being notified of the action, submit an appeal, in writing, to the Board of Directors of the College. In the event that the Board of Directors determine that further investigation is required, any additional findings shall be disclosed to the parties, who will be provided with an opportunity to respond. The Board will then review the record and determine whether or not a violation of the College policy has occurred.  

Confidentiality

Complaints of harassment will be received and investigated in a confidential manner in accordance with the procedures, including prescribing corrective action. Information that must be shared will be disclosed on a need-to-know basis.