Harassment & Grievance Policy

Houston DSA is committed to creating a space that is welcoming and inclusive to members of all genders, races, and classes. To ensure that everyone is able to organize without fear of harassment, abuse, or harm, the Houston DSA membership approved the following Harassment & Grievance Policy.

Note: this page is a summary of the full grievance process outlined in our chapter bylaws. Please refer to the bylaws for the definitive process.

Please feel free to email grievance@houstondsa.org if you have any questions about the grievance process.

Prohibited Behavior

Members of Houston DSA shall not engage in harassment on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, disability, race, color, religion, national origin, immigration status, class, or age. Harassing or abusive behavior, such as unwelcome attention, inappropriate or offensive remarks, slurs, or jokes, physical or verbal intimidation, stalking, inappropriate physical contact or proximity, and other verbal and physical conduct constitute harassment when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a member’s continued affiliation with DSA;
  2. Submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for organizational decisions affecting such individual; or
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile environment interfering with an individual’s capacity to organize within DSA.

Grievance Process

Grievance Mediators

Houston DSA has two Grievance Mediators tasked with collecting grievance reports and responses from the accused, impartially investigating allegations, and recommending appropriate action to the Steering Committee.

All actions taken by the Grievance Mediators will be conducted with the utmost respect for the confidentiality of the parties involved.

Houston DSA’s Grievance Mediators are Paige M. and Steve H.

How to File a Grievance

To file a grievance, email grievance@houstondsa.org with:

  1. Your name
  2. The name(s) of the individual(s) accused
  3. A description of the reported incident
  4. Which Grievance Mediator you prefer to work with (optional)

There is no limit on the time period in which an accuser may file a report after alleged harassment has occurred.

Investigation

The Grievance Mediators will contact the accused within seven days to notify them that a report has been filed against them and to request a written response. The accused member then has seven days to file this response to the Grievance Mediators. If the member does not meet this deadline, the Grievance Mediators will recommend appropriate disciplinary action to the Steering Committee.

If the accused denies the substance of the report, the Grievance Mediators will conduct an investigation, to take place within the next ten days. This investigation may include interviewing other members with direct knowledge of the incident(s), requesting documentation from any parties directly involved, and employing any and all other means deemed necessary. If necessary, the Grievance Mediators may recommend that the parties do not contact each other for the duration of the investigative process.

The Grievance Mediators will determine whether the report is credible based on a standard of whether it more-likely-than-not occurred, and, if necessary, will make a recommendation to Steering Committee of appropriate disciplinary action as soon as practicable, but ultimately within thirty days of the report being filed. This is to ensure the timely, efficient, accurate, and discreet adjudication of all reports.

The GM(s) may notify the Steering Committee of the accuser’s report and its substance at any time after the report is filed, but must give written notice to both the accuser and the accused member before doing so.

Remedies and Penalties

After reviewing the written report and recommendations of the Grievance Mediators, the Steering Committee will decide on appropriate remedies or penalties. If the Steering Committee finds the report to be credible, they are authorized to carry out the following remedies and penalties:

  1. A formal discussion between the accused and the Steering Committee to develop a plan to change the harassing behavior(s);
  2. Suspension from meetings and other chapter or organizational events;
  3. Removal from chapter committees or working groups;
  4. Removal from the chapter in accordance with Article III of the chapter Bylaws;
  5. Any and all other relief deemed necessary and just.

The appropriate form of relief will be determined by, among other things:

  1. The request of the accuser;
  2. The severity of the offense;
  3. The response of the accused; and
  4. The accused’s relevant behavioral histories.

Appeals

Either party may appeal the form of relief determined by the Steering Committee to the National DSA Harassment Grievance Officer(s) at nationalgrievanceofficer@dsausa.org. Appeals must be filed within thirty days of receiving written notice of the Steering Committee’s decision.

The limited grounds for appeal are:

  1. Either party believes the behavior was not interpreted using the standards for harassment;
  2. Procedural errors, misconduct, or conflicts of interest affected the fairness of the outcome; and
  3. The remedy or penalty determined by the Steering Committee was grossly disproportionate to the violation committed.

Retaliation

The policy prohibits retaliation against any member for bringing a complaint of harassment pursuant to this policy, against a person who assists someone with a complaint of harassment, or participates in any manner in an investigation or resolution of a complaint of discrimination or harassment.

Retaliatory behaviors include threats, intimidation, reprisals, and/or adverse actions related to organizing. If any party to the complaint believes there has been retaliation, they may inform the Grievance Mediators who will determine whether to factor the retaliation into the original complaint or to treat it as a separate incident.