Harassment and Discrimination-Free Workplace Policy

The VMAE strives to create and maintain a work environment in which people are treated with dignity, decency, and respect. For this reason, the VMAE is committed to maintaining a productive work environment and conduct that is considered to constitute harassment or discrimination under this policy will not be tolerated. This policy applies in the organization’s offices and wherever else an individual’s job may take them such as meetings, as well as to all individuals who are involved in the organization’s work as a contractor, consultant, volunteer, director, officer, or partner. Special attention should be paid to avoiding any behavior or conduct that could be interpreted as unlawful harassment. All VMAE contractors, consultants, volunteers, directors, officers, and partners are also expected to make it known promptly, through the avenues identified below, whenever they experience or witness offensive behavior or conduct.

The VMAE recognizes that not all conduct – even though rude or in poor taste – violates this policy or the law. The conduct prohibited by this policy includes all unwelcome conduct, whether verbal, physical, or visual, that is based upon a person’s actual or perceived protected status or upon the actual or perceived protected status of the person’s relatives, friends, or other associates. Protected status includes, but is not limited to, a person’s sex, color, race, ancestry, religion, national origin, age, disability (physical or mental), medical condition, marital status, gender identity, veteran status, citizenship status, parental status, pregnancy status, or sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status under federal, state, or local law. The conduct forbidden by this policy specifically includes, but is not limited to: (a) epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, or intimidating acts that are based on a person’s actual or perceived protected status; and (b) written or graphic material circulated within or posted within the workplace that shows hostility toward a person because of their actual or perceived protected status.

Special provisions under the law apply to sexual harassment. Sexual harassment consists of, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical acts of a sexual or sex based nature when (1) submission to the conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as a term or condition of any individual’s employment or contract; (2) an employment decision is based on an individual’s acceptance or rejection of that conduct; or (3) when the conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. Sexual harassment is not limited to explicit demands for sexual favors. It also may include such actions as: (1) sex-oriented verbal kidding, teasing or jokes; (2) repeated sexual flirtations, advances or propositions; (3) continued or repeated verbal abuse of a sexual nature; (4) graphic or degrading comments about an individual or his or her appearance; (5) the display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; (6) subtle pressure for sexual activity, and (7) physical contact such as patting, hugging, or pinching. These examples are provided to illustrate the kind of conduct prohibited by this policy, but are not necessarily exhaustive. It is also unlawful to retaliate against any individual who has articulated a good faith concern about sexual harassment  or discrimination against them or against another individual.

Complaint / Investigation Procedure
If an individual experiences or witnesses any workplace harassment, they must report it immediately to either the President or CEO of VMAE.

Any individual who believes the CEO has engaged in inappropriate conduct should report the conduct to the President. Please note that individuals are  required to report harassment whether it occurs in the organization’s offices or off-site. Complaints of harassment or retaliation that are in violation of this policy will be accepted in writing or orally.

All reports made will be fully and immediately investigated and, if found to have merit, will result in whatever disciplinary action against the offender may be warranted, up to and including termination of contract, termination of Strategic Initiative Partner status, termination from membership, censure, and removal from an entity or position. Appropriate action will be taken to prevent further harassment or retaliation. In investigating complaints of harassment under this policy, the VMAE may impose discipline for inappropriate conduct that comes to VMAE’s attention, without regard to whether the conduct constitutes a violation of law or a violation of this policy. Any individual who in good faith reports unlawful harassment or cooperates in the investigation of a complaint will be protected from retaliatory action. The VMAE will preserve confidentiality to the extent the needs of the investigation permit.