Conduct Policy

I. Preamble

As a professional association, DC-AAPOR fully supports and values all participants at DC-AAPOR-sponsored, online and in-person events and activities such as conferences, meetings, and listserv (collectively and as defined further below, “DC-AAPOR Events”). DC-AAPOR Events help establish professional networks and, in the spirit of free inquiry and expression, encourage collegial interactions that include discussions, differing viewpoints, and scientific debates, all of which are important and necessary for advancing the science and practice of public opinion research. We pride ourselves on our professionalism and our respect for others.

DC-AAPOR Events bring together people from many different cultures. As such, we need to be sensitive to cultural contexts. We must also be sensitive to legacies that have produced discriminatory and prejudicial beliefs and practices. DC-AAPOR firmly believes the success of any organization requires a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce and a culture that embraces and encourages different perspectives. We recognize the inherent value in cultivating a wide range of experiences and it is our commitment to embrace every person’s uniqueness and to provide a professional work environment where everyone is welcome and treated with dignity and respect.

For these and other reasons, DC-AAPOR is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for everyone attending or associated with DC-AAPOR Events. These individuals include all attendees whether they are DC-AAPOR members or non-members, as well as staff, vendors, exhibitors, contractors, and venue staff (collectively, the “Participants”). We are committed to providing an environment that is free from harassment and discrimination, whether sexual or otherwise, based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, language, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, health, socioeconomic status, marital status, domestic status, political affiliation, or parental status. Harassment and discrimination undermine the principles of equality and respect and are serious forms of professional misconduct. Participants at DC-AAPOR Events who are found to violate this policy will be subject to discipline.

Specifically, and as described in more detail below, the Policy outlines expectations, reporting, and procedures for every Participant at an DC-AAPOR Event. For purposes of this Policy, the phrase “DC-AAPOR Event” also includes the following:

  • In-person gatherings such as conferences, meetings, short courses or other DC-AAPOR-sponsored events and activities;
  • Online, “virtual” events such as webinars or virtual conferences;
  • Emails, texts, telephone calls and any other online or offline communication related to DC-AAPOR business; and
  • Online forums such as AAPORnet.

II. Expected Conduct

All Participants are expected to act in a professional manner and treat others with respect while conducting or engaging in DC-AAPOR Events.

All Participants are expected to abide by this Policy in all meeting venues including ancillary events as well as official and unofficial social gatherings. At a minimum, the Participants are expected to:

  • Follow the norms of professional respect that are necessary to promote the conditions for free inquiry and expression.
  • Be proactive in helping to mitigate or avoid any harm, be it physical or psychological, to any event or activity participant that they personally witness.
  • Alert law enforcement or venue security personnel or appropriate authorities if they see a situation in which someone might be in imminent physical danger.

III. Unacceptable Conduct

What is prohibited? Harassment of others will not be tolerated. DC-AAPOR has zero tolerance for any such behaviors.

Definitions of Harassment: More generally, harassment consists of a myriad of activities or conduct, including, without limitation, single or multiple persistent or pervasive acts that are demeaning, abusive, offensive, or create a hostile professional environment. Harassment may include sexual solicitation, physical advances, or verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature; it may also include threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; circulation of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility toward an individual or group; epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping based on group identity. Such unprofessional behavior is not limited to face-to-face interactions. As such, it also includes any such unprofessional behavior via emails, texts, telephone calls and any other online or offline communication.

Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Behavior and language that are welcome or acceptable to one person or culture may be unwelcome and offensive to another. Personal or cultural acceptance is not a justification for any unwelcome form of behavior. The following are examples of behavior that, when unwelcome, constitute sexual harassment:

  • Sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions;
  • Verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature, including sexually degrading words used to describe an individual;
  • Making unwelcome comments about someone’s physical appearance;
  • A display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures;
  • Sexually explicit jokes;
  • Unwanted touching; and
  • Persistent and unwelcome solicitation of emotional or physical intimacy, especially when accompanied by real or implied threat of professional or other type of harm.

Other Harassment. Harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic is also prohibited. This conduct includes, but is not limited to, prejudicial actions or comments related to actual or perceived gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, age, or religion that coerce others, foment broad hostility, or otherwise undermine professional equity or the principles of free inquiry and expression.

Verbally or physically abusive behavior by a Participant toward others while conducting or engaging in DC-AAPOR Events will not be tolerated. Examples of such behavior include, but are not limited to:

  • Bullying;
  • Knowingly communicating false information about someone else;
  • Intimidating, harassing, abusive, derogatory or demeaning speech or actions;
  • Directing abusive profanity toward others;
  • Engaging in behaviors that have the effect of humiliating others;
  • Mobbing (i.e., group bullying an individual);
  • Damaging property;
  • Deliberately intimidating, stalking or following;
  • Harassing photography or recording;
  • Sustained disruption of talks or other events;
  • Physical assault;
  • Real or implied threat of physical harm; and
  • Engaging in other unprofessional or inappropriate behavior.

Anti-Competitive Behaviors. Antitrust laws are designed to prevent any situation from which collusion, price-fixing or other anti-competitive activity can be reasonably inferred.  While it is the case that many of our members are affiliated with academic or other non-profit enterprises, a large number are in fact principals, members, employees or contractors of for-profit competitors. Accordingly, discussions of price-setting, attempts to limit competition, or other unreasonable restraints on trade are strictly prohibited.

While not fully comprehensive, the following list sets forth some basic parameters of what is strictly prohibited at DC-AAPOR Events. Agreements among competitors relating to any of these subjects are per se violations of the antitrust laws.

  • Any discussions, collaborations, or attempts by Participants regarding fixing, establishing, maintaining, or discounting prices or terms or conditions of sale, for services or products.
  • Any collaborations or attempts by Participants to coordinate restrictions for employment opportunities in the industry or to set salaries, wages or other compensation.
  • Any discussions of territorial limitations of any kind.

General Compliance with Applicable Laws. All Participants are expected to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations (collectively, the “Laws”). Any violation by a Participant of the Laws relating to or arising out of its conduct in connection with an DC-AAPOR Event shall constitute a violation of this Policy.

IV. Procedures for Addressing Misconduct

A. Notice

If you believe that you are or have been subjected to harassment and/or you have identified some other violation of this Policy, please speak up. Any such reporting will be reviewed by the appropriate individuals at DC-AAPOR in confidence and in a non-prejudicial manner. Only if you feel it is appropriate, and in your judgment if you can do so without harm to yourself or others, you can of course communicate, in an effective form, to the person whom you believe is acting inappropriately that their behavior is unwelcome and/or potentially in violation of this Policy. Explicitly identifying inappropriate behavior communicates: 1) that one perceives the act as crossing a professional line, and 2) one does not wish it to continue.

If you witness potential harm, such as physical contact or hostile verbal behavior, be proactive in helping to mitigate or avoid any escalations in the activity or other negative consequences.

If you are or have been subjected to harassment and are not comfortable addressing it directly with the individual, if the behavior does not stop, or if you remain concerned about the incident, concerns should be reported in the manner stated below.

More generally, if you experience harassment that results in physical harm, makes you feel physically unsafe, or otherwise requires an immediate response, you should alert law enforcement or venue security personnel.

B. Formal Reporting

Submit a report via the online form which goes directly to an Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee, consisting of DC-AAPOR’s President, Membership & Chapter Relations Chair, Senior Councilor-at-Large, Standards Chair, and Inclusion and Equity Committee Chair, and Executive Director (non-voting member). Should any member of the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee be involved in a complaint—as the complainant, the accused, or a witness—and therefore needs to be recused due to this conflict of interest, the reporting individual has the option to select which committee members receive the violation report. Should any member be recused from the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee, the person(s) will be replaced by another person in similar office (e.g., Past President, Associate MCR Chair). This Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee will report through the Standards Committee. The Standards Committee chair, or a person in a similar office, will serve as the chair of the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee.

Instructions are provided on what to report: (i) a statement describing the alleged action or violation, (ii) the date or dates when the alleged violation occurred, (iii) the DC-AAPOR event/meeting/connection, (iv) the name(s) of the individual(s) alleged to be in violation, (v) any other witnesses to the event(s), and (vi) your first and last name (as the complainant) along with contact information, including telephone number, postal address, and e-mail address.

Click here to submit a Code of Conduct Policy Complaint.

Within two (2) business days (or with one business day during in-person events, such as in the case of a conference), the DC-AAPOR President will respond to complainant on behalf of the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee with a message saying that the incident/issue will be investigated within thirty (30) days. The complainant will be told to reach out directly to the DC-AAPOR President if (1) the person wants to discuss the matter more quickly or (2) if they haven’t heard back within the response times as set forth above.

C. Review Process

The role of the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee is to review the written report of violation. The Committee reaches out to the person whose conduct is in question in the complaint and that person can provide their own written account of the incident(s). In its sole discretion, the Committee may reach out to the complainant and/or any other named witnesses as needed. The Committee may secure the service of an independent professional Ombudsperson as deemed appropriate and necessary in any given complaint.

The Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee will decide about possible action within 30 days of the complainant report.

D. Decision-Making by DC-AAPOR

DC-AAPOR reserves the right to have sole discretion over decision-making regarding standards of conduct in its organizational activities and at DC-AAPOR Events and to determine any associated penalties. By agreeing to the terms of registration for a specific DC-AAPOR Event, all Participants are subject to this Policy. DC-AAPOR will have no liability in connection with the stated penalties below; and there will be no refund or compensation of any kind associated therewith.

After a review by the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee and based on the merits of the complaint and any records of prior complaints, the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee will seek a consensus on the appropriately judged outcome. Majority opinion will rule if consensus is not achieved. The outcomes include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Declination to take action;
  • Temporary or permanent removal DC-AAPOR listserv;
  • Temporary or permanent removal from DC-AAPOR leadership, committee, or volunteer role;
  • Revocation of registration for upcoming DC-AAPOR-sponsored event(s), with refunding of registration fees to be determined by the event’s cancellation policy;
  • Immediate expulsion from an DC-AAPOR-sponsored event(s) with no refund for any fees paid;
  • Temporary or permanent ban from participation in DC-AAPOR-sponsored event(s); and
  • Temporary or permanent revocation of DC-AAPOR membership with no refund for any fees paid.

Referral to Law Enforcement: DC-AAPOR Executive Director, officers, and members of the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee will review federal offense-reporting standards (e.g., Clery Act) tied to violent threats, assault, and other related acts. In cases where the behavior could be unlawful, DC-AAPOR will immediately refer the incident to those parties that may have a right to bring a claim, including in the case of criminal claims, referrals to the appropriate law enforcement or prosecution authorities.

E. Referral to Executive Council

The DC-AAPOR President will report on the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee’s decision, but not the facts or details thereof, at DC-AAPOR’s next occurring Executive Council Meeting. The decisions will be announced (decision information only) not subject to vote but entered into the minutes by acclamation. The “facts” of the complaints will be archived confidentiality by DC-AAPOR’s, and not made a part of the public minutes. It will be the responsibility of DC-AAPOR leadership to review participant lists to identify individuals who are under temporary or permanent restrictions.

All decision information delivered to the Executive Council will be kept confidential. The complaint form and all related materials prepared for the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee, including but not limited to information gathered through interviews with the complainant, the accused, and witnesses, and the outcome of the investigation, will be kept confidential. All Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee discussions related to the specifics of the complaint will be treated as privileged communication with no information recorded that would identify the incident or any individuals involved in the incident.

F. Reinstatement and Appeals

A person subject to a temporary ban will be automatically reinstated when the ban expires, assuming they meet other criteria for membership and participation, including renewed agreement to the DC-AAPOR Code of Conduct and payment of dues or registration fees.

All decisions rendered by the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee are subject to appeal by either the complainant or the person whose behavior was the basis of the complaint.  The appeal must be submitted in writing to the DC-AAPOR Executive Council stating the justification for the appeal. The appeal must also be submitted within six (6) months of the time the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee rendered its decision. The enforcement of the decisions and rulings of the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee shall stay in effect during the pendency of any appeal, subject to the sole discretion and unanimous consent of the members constituting the Ad-Hoc Committee. The appeal will be reviewed by DC-AAPOR Executive Council. Should any member of the Executive Council be involved in the previously reviewed complaint, or be involved in the complaint, as the complainant, the accused, or a witness, the person(s) will be replaced by another person in a similar office.

If a majority of the Executive Council agree that there is justification for an appeal, then they may review written reports of the violation. This Executive Council may reach out to the complainant and/or any other named witnesses as needed to gather additional information. The Executive Council may secure the service of an independent professional Ombudsperson as deemed appropriate and necessary in any given complaint. If the Ad-Hoc Conduct Committee used an Ombudsperson in arriving at its original decision, a different Ombudsperson will be selected for the appeals process to ensure fairness and transparency.

The Executive Council will render a decision on the appeal within forty-five (45) days. shall be communicated to the accused and the complainant by the DC-AAPOR President.

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