Forbidden Stories

Policy against harassment

Forbidden Stories advocates a respectful, productive, supportive, and appreciative culture and workplace in which every individual is treated with fairness and respect. Accordingly, Forbidden Stories prohibits any behavior that constitutes or could lead to harassment of any kind by anybody. This policy addresses Forbidden Stories’ approach to preventing, addressing, and mitigating any behavior that could constitute sexual or psychological harassment.

Policy Statement

Forbidden Stories strongly disapproves of and will not tolerate the sexual harassment of any of its employees (including interns), beneficiaries, partners, funders, or vendors by anyone, including, but not limited to, any supervisor, coworker, beneficiary, funder, partner, or vendor. Forbidden Stories also strongly disapproves of and will not tolerate the harassment of any of its employees, beneficiaries, partners, funders, or vendors on the basis of their gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation or disability. Forbidden Stories is committed to maintaining a work environment that is free of harassment of any kind. Forbidden Stories believes it is the responsibility of all employees and related work contacts to assist the Organization in providing a workplace that is free from sexual and other forms of harassment at all times by not engaging in offensive or inappropriate harassing behavior and by reporting incidents of such behavior.

Prohibited Conduct

Discrimination and harassment are prohibited, including any verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct that has the purpose or effect of disturbing, annoying, alarming, demeaning, degrading, distressing, threatening, or intimidating another person; unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; and/or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. 

Harassing behavior includes, but is not limited to: verbal, physical, written or graphic material, or threatening, intimidating or hostile acts that denigrate or show hostility or aversion toward an individual or group, including material that is posted anywhere in the workplace or that is said, done or circulated in the workplace, including by electronic means.

This prohibition applies to all work-related settings and activities, whether inside or outside the workplace, including work meetings, work trips, or work-related social events. Forbidden Stories’ beneficiaries, partners, funders, vendors, and other work contacts are also expected to treat Forbidden Stories staff respectfully and in accordance with this policy.

Examples of Prohibited Conduct

Examples of behavior that may constitute harassment include but are not limited to:

  • Lewd, obscene or sexually suggestive language, comments, gestures or actions; Sexually oriented “jokes”, “teasing”, or “practical jokes”;
  • Sexual innuendo; Unwelcome sexual advances; Explicit sexual propositions; Requests for sexual acts or favors (with or without promises or threats of reciprocal favors or actions);
  • Physical contact such as stroking, pinching, or intentionally brushing against another person’s body;
  • Watching with insistence; Making pushy requests to go out despite refusals; Continuously imposing one’s presence; Imposing intrusive physical proximity;
  • Displaying crude, obscene, or sexually explicit printed or visual materials, including pictures, greeting cards, articles, books, magazines, photos, or animated cartoons;
  • Slurs, jokes or degrading comments concerning gender, age, race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or disability;
  • Bullying and denigration; Hurtful, humiliating or aggressive comments;
  • Unjustified criticism of the work done; Assignment of a demeaning task that does not correspond to the person’s qualifications; Regular assignment of tasks that exceed the person’s capabilities. 


Such conduct may constitute sexual or psychological harassment even if it is not directed at any one individual employee. Besides, harassment does not require intent to offend. Thus, inappropriate conduct meant as a joke, a prank, or even a compliment can lead or contribute to harassment. Moreover, a person of any gender may be the victim or perpetrator of sexual or gender-based harassment.

Additional rules apply to individuals with supervisory or managerial authority. No one with a supervisory or managerial role may at any time: threaten or imply that an individual’s submission to or rejection of a sexual advance will in any way influence any decision regarding their employment, performance evaluation, advancement, compensation, assignments, discipline, discharge, or any other condition of employment; or make any employment decision concerning an individual on such a basis.

Reporting Harassment

Forbidden Stories encourages any employee and/or individual (such as a beneficiary, partner, funder or vendor) who believes that they have experienced or witnessed inappropriate behavior to promptly notify the offender that their behavior is unwelcome.

If such notifications are unsuccessful, or if the employee or individual prefers not to deal directly with the offender, they should report the behavior to the Executive Director, the Chief Financial Officer or the staff representatives so that they may conduct an investigation.

The Organization has the obligation to take all necessary measures to prevent and punish sexual or psychological harassment.

The Organization encourages employees and individuals who feel they are being harassed to document these incidents (keep emails and handwritten notes, take notes on what was said, the dates and times of these exchanges…).

In addition, supervisors are required to report any incidents of inappropriate behavior of which they become aware to one of the above-mentioned persons.

Every effort will be made to treat all complaints confidentially, to the extent necessary to investigate and take corrective action.

Investigation of Harassment Complaints

The Organization will promptly investigate all complaints of sexual or psychological harassment brought to its attention. As sexual harassment covers a wide spectrum of behaviors, the precise nature of an investigation and who will conduct it will depend on the circumstances, and the Organization may call upon outside investigators or advisors. In any event, any investigation will be as thorough, fair, and complete as possible.

Resolution of Harassment Complaints

If an investigation confirms that sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior has occurred, appropriate corrective action, up to and including termination of the offender, will be taken. Disciplinary action will correlate with the nature and gravity of the offense.

Appropriate disciplinary action (up to and including termination of employment) will be taken against staff found to have violated this policy. Individuals who violate this policy may also be subject to personal legal and financial liability under applicable law. Aside from termination, potential consequences may include withholding of planned salary increases, withholding of promotions, project or responsibility reassignment, additional training, a probationary period for employment or particular benefits, suspension, or mandatory participation in restorative justice processes.

In addition, disciplinary action, up to and including termination, will be taken when it is determined that a manager or other supervisory personnel engaged in conduct prohibited by this policy, failed to report violations of this policy or employee complaints of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, or allowed such behavior to continue.

Policy Against Retaliation

Forbidden Stories also prohibits retaliation against an employee who complains about alleged inappropriate behavior, even if there is insufficient evidence to support the complaint. Similarly, the Organization prohibits retaliation against employees who participate in an investigation into a harassment complaint. Any incident of retaliation should also be reported to the individuals identified in the “Reporting Harassment” section of this policy. Any alleged acts of retaliation will be grounds for opening a new investigation.

Alternative Remedies

Harassment reduces self-confidence and isolates the person being harassed. We strongly encourage the person being harassed not to stay alone and to talk about the harassment to people they trust: friends, colleagues, family. Whenever possible, victims of sexual harassment should avoid being alone with their harasser in order to protect themselves.