• Introduction

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology has a long-established policy and set of procedures for dealing with sexual harassment against employees. “It is the American Academy of Ophthalmology's policy to prohibit harassment of any employee by any Supervisor, employee, customer or vendor on the basis of sex or gender.” This “Employee Policy”, and the procedures for reporting and redress are set forth in the Employee Handbook.

    In 2018 the Academy extended its policy against sexual harassment to prohibit sexual harassment by staff, leaders, members, attendees, guests and meeting exhibitors during or in association with Academy-sponsored events, meetings or social gatherings. The new public policy and the corresponding procedures are in this document.

    I. Academy Policy Prohibiting Sexual Harassment

    A. New Policy

    The Academy’s Board of Trustees approved the following policy on March 14, 2018:

    The Academy values and respects the dignity and integrity of all who work together to protect sight and empower lives. As part of the Academy’s commitment to diversity and its organization-wide policy of nondiscrimination, Academy staff have long been bound by a policy prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace and in association with Academy-related activities. The Academy now extends this prohibition of sexual harassment to its leaders and members; meeting attendees and their guests; and meeting exhibitors.

    Henceforth, the Academy prohibits sexual harassment by staff, leaders, members, attendees, guests and meeting exhibitors during or in association with Academy-sponsored events, meetings or social gatherings.

    For the purposes of this policy, sexual harassment includes anything of a sexual nature that might create an unprofessional, unwelcoming or hostile environment. This includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, displaying sexually graphic photos or other materials, sending sexually explicit emails or text messages and uninvited verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

    If you experience sexual harassment after the date of this policy, email one of the following individuals: president@aao.orgpresidentelect@aao.org or generalcounsel@aao.org. Your communication is confidential.

    B. Procedures

    The procedures for investigation and redress are split into two categories: allegations of sexual harassment against members and allegations against non-members. If the person against whom the allegation of sexual harassment is made falls into two categories, for example, the person is both a vendor and a member, they will be treated as a member.

    1. Allegations Against Members
      1. The Academy receives a report of sexual harassment by a member during or in association with an Academy-sponsored event, meeting or social gathering.
      2. The CEO and President may request any or all of the parties to leave the event, meeting, or gathering immediately upon receipt of the report, depending on the circumstances.
      3. Any allegation which appears to be potentially criminal in nature will be promptly reported to appropriate authorities.
      4. The President and CEO will convene a three-person panel, including one member from the Academy’s HR department and at least one from the Board of Trustees or Committee of Secretaries. This panel will be convened as soon as possible after the receipt of the report, but no later than ten business days following its receipt.
      5. The panel will conduct a confidential investigation, with both parties having the choice to submit in-person or written statements. Third party witness statements may only be in writing.
      6. The panel will decide the consequences, if any, including, but not limited to dismissal of the allegation, apology, reprimand, suspension, or termination.
      7. The party receiving the consequences may appeal to a new three-person panel also convened by the President and CEO and, at his or her option and cost, may be represented by counsel. Academy counsel may be present. The recommendation of this panel is final.
    2. Allegations Against Non-Members
      1. The Academy receives a report of sexual harassment by a non-member during or in association with an Academy-sponsored event, meeting or social gathering.
      2. The CEO and President may request any or all of the parties to leave the event, meeting, or gathering immediately upon receipt of the report, depending on the circumstances.
      3. Any allegation which appears to be potentially criminal in nature will be promptly reported to appropriate authorities.
      4. CEO and COO will convene a three-person panel including one member from the Academy’s HR department. This panel will be convened as soon as possible after receipt of the report, but no later than ten business days following its receipt.
      5. The panel will conduct a confidential investigation, with both parties having the choice to submit in-person or written statements. Third party witness statements may only be in writing.
      6. The panel will decide the consequences, if any, including, but not limited to dismissal of the allegation, apology, withdrawal of vendor privileges for a specific time or permanently, or other consequences.
      7. The party receiving the consequences may appeal to a new three-person panel and, at his or her option and cost, may be represented by counsel. Academy counsel may be present. The recommendation of this panel is final.

    III. Publication

    This Academy Policy and Procedures Prohibiting Sexual Harassment shall be published on-line and in the Mobile Meeting Guide, among other Academy publications, to inform the Academy community of the policy and procedures.

    Approved by Board of Trustees, September 22, 2018