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Annual Meetings

Statement of Appropriate Conduct at Conferences of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

Introduction
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) holds professional conferences, webinars, and meetings to enable its members to receive continuing education, build professional networks and collaborations, engage and recruit new members, and discover new technologies, methodologies, and services for professional and academic use. To provide all participants – members and other attendees, speakers, exhibitors, staff, and volunteers – the opportunity to benefit from the event, HFES is committed to providing a safe and productive meeting environment free of discrimination, hostility, and harassment, in any form, for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, physical or mental disability, medical condition, physical appearance, ethnicity, race, religion, political affiliation, nationality, or any other group identity or basis protected by federal or applicable state laws or local ordinances. The Society does not tolerate discrimination or any form of unlawful harassment and is committed to enforcing this Statement of Appropriate Conduct (the "Code") at all HFES events.

Scope of the Code
HFES requires compliance with the Code by all event participants (members, nonmembers, and speakers), staff, guests, sponsors, volunteers, and vendors/exhibitors at all official HFES conferences, webinars, meetings, meeting breakout sessions, tours, and social events, as well as at all HFES meeting-related events that are expressly sponsored or promoted by the Society, whether held in public or private facilities (each may be referred to herein as an "Event" or collectively, as "Events").

Harassment Defined
Harassment includes speech, gestures, or behavior that is not welcome or is personally offensive, whether it is based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, physical or mental disability, medical condition, physical appearance, ethnicity, race, religion, political affiliation, nationality, or any other group identity. It includes deliberate intimidation, stalking, unwelcome attention, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate, unnecessary, and/or unwanted physical contact, and unprofessional use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces or in presentations. Behavior that is acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to another; whether any act is considered offensive or inappropriate is determined by the recipient of such action, attention, or conversation. Harassment intended in a joking manner still constitutes unacceptable behavior.

Within the context of professional practices of scholarly communications, critical examination of professional opinions, theories, and viewpoints does not, by itself, constitute hostile conduct or harassment. Similarly, use of sexual imagery or language in the context of a professional discussion or presentation might not constitute harassment.

Prohibited Conduct
As a professional society, HFES is strongly committed to diversity, equity, professional expression of ideas, and ethical treatment of all members and conference/meeting participants. These values and a zero-tolerance stance on harassment are in line with the HFES Code of Ethics, Adopted October 14, 1989 and Amended 2005, more specifically Article II (General Conduct, Principle 1 and Principle 4). The here-stated "Code" of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is aimed at emphasizing and enforcing the Society's values and firm belief in the value of civil discourse, even during critical examination and critique of ideas, and the free exploration of competing ideas and concepts – with a fundamental respect for the rights, dignity, and value of all persons.

HFES seeks to provide a conference atmosphere in which diverse participants may learn, network and enjoy the company of colleagues in an environment of mutual human respect. HFES recognizes a shared responsibility to establish, maintain, and protect such an environment for the benefit of all. Some behaviors are, therefore, specifically prohibited. Prohibited conduct at Events includes, but is not limited to:

  • Harassment or intimidation based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, physical or mental disability, medical condition, physical appearance, ethnicity, race, religion, political affiliation, nationality, or any other group identity or basis protected by federal or applicable state laws or local ordinances.
  • Sexual harassment or intimidation, including unwelcome sexual attention, stalking (physical or virtual), or unsolicited physical contact.
  • Harassment, intimidation, or coercion based upon a position as a teacher, superior, employer, or any position of influence.
  • Abusive, discriminatory, derogatory, ridiculing, lewd, or demeaning language, conduct or presentation materials (visual or auditory).
  • Bullying, harassment, or unprofessional conduct aimed at speech or professional status.
  • Yelling at, offensive ridiculing of, or threatening speakers (verbally or physically) or any attendees.
  • Physical violence or aggression or threats of violence.

Reporting an Incident

If you are experiencing a threat to your physical safety, immediately call 911, and contact HFES (see below) as soon as you are safe.

Meeting participants should note that HFES cannot address claimed inappropriate conduct or harassment unless the claims are brought to the attention of the appropriate personnel. Event participants who witness or experience harassment or any inappropriate conduct, including but not limited to the prohibited conduct described above, should report the conduct to Ms. Lynn Strother, Executive Director of HFES, at lynn@hfes.org or to any HFES staff. It is recommended that, in addition to notifying HFES staff as quickly as a participant feels safe doing so, the individual write down the details of the incident (e.g., times, places, nature of the incident, comments made), as they may be asked to fill out a report. Save any such items as emails or notes. Those reporting a complaint are not expected to discuss the incident with the offending party. All complaints will be treated seriously and will be investigated promptly. Confidentiality will be honored to the extent permitted as long as the rights of others are not compromised.

HFES reserves the right at any time to investigate situations that arise at HFES events and in HFES-sponsored online communities provided in connection with such events. If an event participant experiences inappropriate conduct or harassment at the participant's own or another institution, at a place of work, at a research facility, or online but not via HFES-sponsored channels (e.g., direct emails between parties), HFES encourages individuals to contact the appropriate officer/official(s) at that location or institution who handles such issues.

Download Incident Report Form

Investigation Procedure
The following procedure will be followed for investigations.

  • If the complainant has not already filed a formal complaint, he or she will be asked to do so in writing. Failure to provide a report in writing may limit HFES's ability to formally follow up on a complaint. (This limitation does not apply to complaints by HFES staff.)
  • Designated HFES investigators will discuss the details first with the individual filing the complaint, then with the alleged offender. The investigator(s) may seek counsel or consult with other HFES staff, management, officers, and/or legal counsel as needed if the appropriate course of action is unclear.
  • Findings and results of all investigations will be reported to the HFES Executive Committee.
  • HFES will notify the individual filing the complaint regarding any action taken on the basis of the report.
  • Any HFES staff or member investigating an incident who believes they have a conflict of interest will recuse themselves from the situation and refer the complaint to the HFES President or other Society officer.
  • Investigations may be conducted on site at a meeting or, if impractical or inappropriate, at any other time.

Disciplinary Action
If it is determined that an individual has engaged in prohibited conduct, HFES shall determine the appropriate action to be taken, which may include, but is not limited to:

  • Private reprimand.
  • Removal from the event without warning or refund.
  • Implementation of conditions upon attendance at future HFES events.
  • Restriction from attendance at future HFES events.
  • Restriction from membership in the Society.

In the event of the potential for serious, injurious, or offensive conduct, when it seems reasonable to preserve the peace and decorum of the event or to limit harm or to avoid further incidents, HFES may take immediate action and ask a person to leave an event, depending on the nature of the issue; follow-up may occur later.

HFES may, but is not required to, report any incident to proper authorities, including but not limited to event security and law enforcement, if in HFES's sole discretion such reporting is appropriate. If HFES determines that an individual has engaged in prohibited conduct at an event, and such individual is member of the Society, the HFES Executive Council may consider suspension or termination of membership in accordance with the HFES Bylaws, Article I, Section 6. In such a circumstance a member shall be provided notice and an opportunity to be heard in writing or electronically.

Retaliation
HFES will not tolerate any form of retaliation against persons who file a complaint or assist in the investigation of a complaint. Retaliation is a serious violation of this policy and, like harassment or discrimination itself, will be subject to disciplinary action.

DISCLAIMER: In adopting and disseminating this Statement of Appropriate Conduct, HFES's main purpose is to encourage appropriate behavior and to address inappropriate behavior. It is important to recognize that the Society is a nonprofit professional society and is not authorized to adjudicate or enforce the law. HFES believes in the importance of taking action in good faith and in the best interest and protection of members and attendees. Nonetheless, HFES is not responsible for the conduct of any individual; assumes no duty to halt, limit, or address any problematic or illegal conduct; and shall not have liability for conduct between and among any individuals.

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