Effective Date: January 2022
Prison Journalism Project (PJP) is an equal opportunity organization, committed to fostering an environment in which people of all identities are welcomed, valued and supported. We seek to create an organization and a publication with diverse voices and experiences that are representative of our society and the communities we serve, including currently incarcerated people, formerly incarcerated people, their families and friends and those who work in and around the prison system.
PJP is committed to maintaining a work environment in which each individual has the right to work in a professional atmosphere, and in a workplace that prohibits discrimination and harassment as well as retaliation against anyone who in good faith reports or participates in an investigation of discrimination or harassment. This policy, which includes Equal Employment Opportunity, Reasonable Accommodations, and Anti-Discrimination and Harassment provisions, is intended to educate individuals who work at or with PJP about what may constitute discrimination, harassment or retaliation and to notify everyone who works here that PJP will not condone or tolerate discrimination, harassment or retaliation.
These policies also provide information regarding when individuals may be eligible to receive reasonable accommodations and how to request such accommodations, and establish a complaint procedure for anyone who may have been the subject of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. This policy applies to PJP’s employees, as well as any applicants, interns, advisors, board of directors and persons providing services pursuant to a contract, including but not limited to independent contractors, consultants and vendors (referred to throughout this policy as “covered individuals”).
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
PJP ensures equal employment opportunity for all qualified covered individuals without discrimination. We embrace the many identities, experiences, environments and circumstances, including — but not limited to — age (current age as well as the age when people were incarcerated), citizenship status, creed, education, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, incarceration status/length of sentence, location, language, nationality, nature of the crime, political affiliation, religion, race, sexuality, socioeconomic status and veteran status.
The organization prohibits and will not tolerate any such discrimination. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment or other work arrangements at PJP including recruitment, advertisements for employment, hiring, training, promotion, transfer, performance evaluation, compensation, benefits and termination.
ANTIDISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT
PJP is committed to providing a work environment where all persons can work together comfortably and productively, free from unlawful discrimination and harassment. In keeping with this commitment, harassment and inappropriate conduct of any form are prohibited. Harassment is conduct (including actions, words, jokes, or comments) that is unwelcome, uncomfortable to the recipient, or interferes with the recipient’s ability to work.
Prohibited conduct includes a wide range of subtle or overt behaviors, including, but not limited to:
- Verbal harassment (epithets, derogatory statements, jokes, threats, slurs, whether spoken, in texts, emails or otherwise, that are sexually suggestive or demean an individual’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, national origin or other personal characteristic protected by law);
- Physical harassment (unwelcome or inappropriate touching, patting, pinching, brushing against another’s body, assault, physical threats or interference with one’s work or movement);
- Visual harassment (leering, making a sexual gesture, texting, emailing, or otherwise displaying posters, cartoons, calendars, pictures, drawings or other objects that are sexually suggestive or demean an individual’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, national origin or other personal characteristic protected by law);
- Sexual innuendo and/or demands for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual statements or advances, or questions or conversations about sexual activities;
- Stereotyping by considering conduct or personality traits inappropriate because they do not conform to other people’s ideas or perceptions about how one should look or act or by expecting an individual to act a certain way based on a personal characteristic protected by law; or
- Bullying (persistent behavior directed at another individual involving ridiculing or maligning that individual, name calling, abusive and offensive remarks, shouting or yelling, or attempts to humiliate that individual or sabotage that individual’s work).
Harassment can occur regardless of whether the targeted individual accepts or rejects the advances or other offending behavior. Conduct prohibited by this policy is unacceptable and forbidden in the workplace, regardless of where it occurs, digitally or physically. Any of the above behaviors includes those using electronic media, including but not limited to blogs, text messages, e-mails, social networking sites, message boards, video conferencing and/or instant messaging, even if these occur away from the workplace premises, on personal devices or during non-work hours. Individuals should also be mindful of their conduct on social media sites and should not post anything about their co-workers or colleagues that may violate this policy, including sexist comments, discriminatory insults or comments, or obscenity.
Sexual Harassment constitutes unlawful discrimination under federal, state, and local laws. Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct which is either of a sexual nature or is directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex when: (i) submission to such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or work arrangement; (ii) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment or work decisions affecting such individual; or (iii) such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work performance, subjecting the individual to inferior terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, even when the reporting individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is prohibited by both applicable law and PJP policy.
Sexual harassment is a form of misconduct, and covered individuals who violate this policy, including supervisors and managers who are aware of sexual harassment but allow it to continue, are subject to discipline, including but not limited to warnings, reprimands, suspension, and/or termination. Sexual harassment by (or directed at) covered individuals, representatives of partner organizations, and visitors is prohibited. While sexual harassment encompasses a wide range of subtle and not so subtle conduct, some examples of specifically prohibited conduct include, but are not limited to:
- A supervisor promising, directly or indirectly, an employee a benefit or reward if the employee complies with a sexually oriented request;
- A supervisor threatening, directly or indirectly, to retaliate against an employee if the employee refuses to comply with a sexually oriented request;
- Denying, directly or indirectly, an employee an employment-related opportunity if the employee refuses to comply with a sexually oriented request;
- Engaging in sexually suggestive physical contact, touching another employee in a way that is unwelcome or engaging in sexual advances (e.g., patting, pinching, brushing up against another’s body);
- Leering, making a sexual gesture, or displaying, storing or transmitting obscene, pornographic, sexually oriented or sexually subjective objects, pictures, cartoons, posters or materials, whether or not using company equipment or facilities;
- Indecent exposure;
- Making sexual or romantic advances toward an employee and persisting despite the employee’s rejection of the advances or making an unwanted sexual proposition or request for sexual favor;
- Graphic, verbal commentary about an individual’s body or body parts;
- Commentary about an individual’s sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies;
- Suggestive or persistent comments of a sexual nature;
- Unwelcome, obscene or derogatory sexual jokes, teasing, kidding or comments — whether in person or by e-mail messages, voicemail messages, text messages, posting to social media sites, etc.; or
- Any similar behavior which is unwelcome or offensive.
Sexual harassment may involve individuals of the same or different gender and is prohibited regardless of the gender or gender identity of the targeted individual and regardless of whether the targeted individual accepts or rejects the advances or other offensive behavior. Sexual harassment can be physical and/or psychological in nature. Covered individuals are prohibited from harassing other covered individuals, regardless of where this takes place. Sex-based harassment — that is, harassment not involving sexual activity or language — may also constitute discrimination if it is directed at individuals because of their sex. For example, sex stereotyping occurs when someone denigrates another because the other person does not meet their perception of how individuals of a particular sex should act or look.
PJP prohibits retaliation against any individual who: makes a good faith complaint of discrimination or harassment on behalf of themselves or another person under this policy or applicable law; opposes discrimination or harassment; participates in an investigation of such reports, testifies or assists in a proceeding involving discrimination, harassment or retaliation; encourages another to report harassment or discrimination; or seeks accommodations. Retaliation need not be job-related and can occur outside the workplace (e.g., threats of physical violence outside of work hours). Retaliation against an individual for reporting discrimination or harassment, for participating in an investigation of a claim of discrimination or harassment, or seeking accommodations is unlawful and a serious violation of this policy and, like discrimination or harassment itself, may subject the offender to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Acts of retaliation must be reported pursuant to the complaint procedure below.
Reporting an Incident of Discrimination, Harassment or Retaliation
PJP strongly urges the reporting of all incidents of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, as defined in this policy, regardless of the offender’s identity or position. Individuals who believe they have experienced or observed conduct that is contrary to PJP’s policy or who have concerns about such matters may address these concerns directly to the individual who has engaged in the conduct if they so choose, but they are not required to do so. Individuals may also raise their concerns with their immediate manager or a co-executive director. Individuals may submit their concerns in writing, but are not required to do so. Individuals should not feel obligated to file their complaints with their immediate manager first before bringing the matter to the attention of the co-executive directors.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Individuals who have experienced conduct they believe is contrary to this policy have an obligation to follow this complaint procedure if they wish additionally or subsequently to seek other redress. An individual’s failure to fulfill this obligation could affect their rights in pursuing legal action.
Early reporting and intervention have proved to be the most effective method of resolving actual or perceived incidents of discrimination or harassment. Therefore, while not establishing a fixed reporting period, PJP strongly urges the prompt reporting of complaints or concerns so that rapid, constructive action can be taken.
Supervisors and managers have an affirmative obligation immediately to report incidents of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation to a co-executive director, whether they learn of an incident directly from the individual who believes they have experienced such conduct or are otherwise aware of conduct that could be considered a violation of this policy. Supervisors and managers are not authorized to conduct their own investigation but must follow the reporting requirements set forth herein. Any report or complaint implicating a co-executive director should be reported to one or more members of the board of directors.
PJP will promptly investigate any and all reports or complaints of discrimination, harassment, or other violations of this policy. Each person making a complaint, the individual(s) who is (are) the subject of the complaint, and all knowledgeable employees have an obligation to cooperate fully with the investigation.
The co-executive directors in consultation with PJP’s attorneys, will assign a primary investigator, who can be a senior member of the PJP team, counsel (either in-house or external), or another internal or external investigator.
All complaints of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or other violations of this policy will be treated seriously and with discretion. PJP will endeavor to maintain confidentiality throughout the investigatory process to the extent practical and appropriate under the circumstances. There may be times when, in order to conduct a full and fair investigation, PJP may need to disclose the identity of an individual raising a concern or of a witness, or information that is provided by such person. In circumstances when an individual making a complaint or a witness has expressed a concern about not disclosing their identity, PJP will respect that request to the extent possible. Examples of situations where disclosure may be necessary include where there is the possibility of harm to other individuals and where a full and fair investigation cannot be carried out without disclosure. Individuals with concerns about confidentiality are encouraged to raise these concerns with the investigator.
Although the specific investigative measures taken in any particular situation will depend on the nature of the complaint and the facts brought forward, PJP’s general protocol may include conducting interview meetings with the individuals who have raised an issue or complaint, the individuals who are accused of violating the organization’s policy, and any individuals identified as witnesses to the conduct in question. Depending on the circumstances, PJP may conduct additional interviews, review and preserve documents, request witness statements, or take other action.
PJP will inform an individual who has filed a complaint of its determination as to whether the organization’s policy was violated. However, PJP will not disclose the nature of any disciplinary action that may have been taken because discipline is a confidential matter between the organization and the individual subject to the corrective action. Discipline can take many forms, and individuals who raise concerns should not assume that disciplinary measures have not been implemented simply because PJP does not publicize the disciplinary measure.
Conduct constituting a violation of this policy will be dealt with appropriately. Responsive action may include, for example: training, referral to counseling, and/or disciplinary action such as warning, reprimand, withholding of a promotion or pay increase, reassignment, temporary suspension without pay, or termination, as the organization believes appropriate under the circumstances.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF COVERED INDIVIDUALS
All covered individuals are responsible for possessing an in-depth knowledge of this policy and must comply fully with both the letter and spirit of this policy.
All covered individuals are responsible for helping to ensure that all discrimination and harassment are prevented.
Any covered individual who believes that they have witnessed discrimination or harassment or is being discriminated against or harassed should immediately notify one or more of the following people: their manager; co-executive directors; or an individual whom PJP has designated to receive complaints and investigate where warranted.
Additionally, supervisors and managers are expected to apply their knowledge of this policy on an active and continuous basis, and they will be held accountable for their conduct in this regard. This means that if a manager is aware of, or has concerns about, any behavior that could be considered a violation of this policy, it is their obligation to report it pursuant to the reporting procedures described above. Failure to fulfill any of these responsibilities will not be tolerated. Supervisors and managers who: engage in discrimination, harassment, or retaliation; fail to report such conduct; or allow it to continue, will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Individuals who have questions or concerns about this policy should speak with the co-executive directors.
LIABILITY FOR PROHIBITED HARASSMENT
Discrimination, harassment and retaliation are not only prohibited by PJP, but are also prohibited by state, federal, and, where applicable, local law. In the event a civil lawsuit is filed against a covered individual, PJP will not defend or pay damages assessed personally against a covered individual for engaging in any behavior that violates this policy.