Policy against sexual and other unlawful harassment

Forbidden Stories seeks a collegial, productive, supportive, and appreciative culture and workplace in which each individual is treated with fairness and respect. Accordingly, Forbidden Stories prohibits conduct 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 other unlawful 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 unlawful harassment at all times by not engaging in offensive or inappropriate harassing behavior and by reporting incidents of such behavior.

Prohibited Conduct

Prohibited discrimination and harassment includes any verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct that is designed to or has the intention 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 conduct 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 said, done or circulated in the workplace, including by electronic means.

This prohibition applies to all work-relating 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

Some examples of conduct which may constitute prohibited harassment include but are not limited to the following:

  • Lewd or sexually suggestive comments, gestures or actions; Foul or obscene language or gestures; Sexually oriented “kidding,” “teasing,” or “practical jokes”;

  • Unwelcome sexual advances; Explicit sexual propositions; Sexual innuendo;

  • Requests for sexual acts or favors (with or without accompanying promises or threats of reciprocal favors or actions);

  • Physical contact such as patting, pinching, or intentionally brushing against another’s body;

  • Watching with insistence; Making pushy requests to go out despite refusal; Continuously imposing presence; Imposing intrusive physical proximity;

  • Display of foul, obscene, or sexually explicit printed or visual material, including pictures, greeting cards, articles, books, magazines, photos, or 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; Devaluing task not corresponding to his qualification; Usually assign a task that is beyond his or her abilities.

Such conduct may constitute sexual or other unlawful 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 term or 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 believe that they have encountered or witnessed inappropriate behavior to promptly notify the offender that his or her behavior is unwelcome.

If such notifications are unsuccessful or the employee or individual prefers not to deal directly with the offender, he/she should report the behavior to Laurent Richard, Sandrine Rigaud or Sara Guglielmi so that he/she can conduct an investigation.

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

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

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

Every effort will be made to treat all complaints as confidential consistent with the need to investigate and take corrective action.

Investigation of Harassment Complaints

The Organization will promptly investigate all reported complaints of sexual or other unlawful harassment. Because sexual harassment covers a wide spectrum of conduct, the precise nature of an investigation and who will conduct it will depend on the circumstances and the Organization may involve outside investigators or counsel. In all events, any investigation will be 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 personnel found to have violated these policies. Individuals who violate these policies may also be subject to personal legal and financial liability under applicable law. Aside from termination, potential consequences may include withholding scheduled salary increases, withholding promotions, project or responsibility reassignment, additional trainings, a probationary period for employment or particular benefits, suspension, or required participation in restorative justice processes.

In addition, disciplinary action, up to and including termination from employment, will be taken where it is determined that a manager or other supervisory personnel either engaged in conduct prohibited by this policy, failed to report violations of this policy or employee complaints of workplace discrimination or harassment, 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 sufficient evidence is not found to substantiate the complaint. Similarly, the Organization prohibits retaliation against employees who participate in an investigation of a harassment complaint. Any incidents of retaliation also should be reported to the individuals identified in “Reporting Harassment” above. Any alleged retaliatory acts 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: friend, colleague, family. Whenever possible, victims of sexual harassment should avoid being alone with their harasser in order to protect themselves.