[Linux-aus] Some Anti-Harassment Policies considered harmful
elliottbrennan at gmail.com
Sun Feb 20 21:18:35 EST 2011
I'd like to add a few comments in relation to the
discussion going on here, though firstly will
admit I wasn't at LCA, didn't see the presentation
and have heard about it only from some of those
who did attend and that which has been written here.
Additionally, not that this makes me an expert :)
I've had quite a few years professional experience
in the area (including training people in State
government in the implementation of policies
relating to racism and discrimination, training of
State employees and community groups in the
handling and identifying of sexual abuse and in
complaints investigation for a State agency).
1. All policies are interpreted by those who apply
them. It is not possibly to create policies (or
Acts of law) which cover every eventually
specifically. Thus the variations are expected to
be understood by a reasonable, average person.
The 'reasonable person' application is quite
common, provokes dispute amongst some and
frequently requires review.
That the current policy doesn't explicitly
identify all possible examples and eventualities
is to be expected - to think otherwise is to have
an expectation which cannot be met. Thus,
harassment policies will be general in areas and
specific in others. Referring to existing laws is
always a good idea, as appears to have been the case.
2. Each person adversely affected by a policy
should be entitled to appeal the adverse effect
within a reasonable period of time. e.g.. if
someone was kicked out of a conference, they
should be entitled to speak to someone, other than
the person who took the action, who has the
authority to reverse the decision or recommend
such to persons independent of those making the
If this doesn't exist, I would suggest it should.
It ensures that all reasonable steps are taken and
ensures a quick resolution (this does not mean
'happiness making', merely that a decision is
taken and accepted by those with the final
authority in the location in question).
3. If there isn't one already, has there been any
thought given to having designated persons (e.g..
at an information booth) to whom someone can take
a complaint if they believe they are being
harassed? This can then be pointed out in the
conference handouts etc.
These nominated/assigned persons can then deal
with the issue at that point and determine if any
other action is required - this would minimise
double handling, confusion of interpretation and
allow other conference personnel to carry on with
their duties while the matter is being dealt with.
It allows a clear point of contact and a person
with responsibility for recording the details of
the incident and action taken. It also allows for
a clear line of responsibility and accountability.
I raise this only because I've not been to LCA
(not through a lack of interest) and thus have no
knowledge of the mechanics of complaints handling
at the conferences.
I hope my comments are of some assistance.
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