The New Jersey Association for Justice, Inc. (NJAJ) is committed to providing a safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all meeting participants and NJAJ staff. All participants, including, but not limited to, attendees, speakers, volunteers, exhibitors, sponsors, NJAJ staff, and service providers, are expected to comply with this Policy. This Policy applies to all NJAJ events, including those sponsored by companies and firms held in conjunction with NJAJ, in public or private facilities.
I. UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR
“Unacceptable behavior” is defined to include:
- Harassment or discrimination, as defined in Section V;
- Physical or verbal abuse;
- Inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces or presentations;
- Unwanted touching, unwanted remarks of a sexual nature, unwelcome comments about someone’s body or personal appearance, and unwelcome attention;
- Unsafe behavior;
- Irresponsible drinking;
- Illegal drug use or attendance at an event while under the influence of illegal drugs; and
- Violation of the dress code, as defined in Section IV.
In response to any incident of unacceptable behavior, NJAJ reserves the right to take any immediate action deemed necessary and appropriate, including removal from the meeting without refund.
II. RESPONSIBLE DRINKING
At NJAJ events, including receptions, where both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are served, participants and staff who choose to drink alcoholic beverages are expected to drink responsibly. NJAJ and convention, hotel, or venue event staff have the right to deny alcohol service to attendees for any reason and may require an attendee to leave the event.
III. PERSONAL SAFETY AND SECURITY
NJAJ is committed to providing a safe and secure environment at its meetings and events by working with venue staff to make sure meeting participants are safe. We ask that all attendees report any questionable or concerning activity to NJAJ, convention, hotel, or venue event staff. NJAJ, convention, hotel, or venue event staff have the right to ask anyone engaging in behavior that is deemed unsafe to leave the event. Additionally, NJAJ recommends the following:
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Do not wear earbuds. Use the buddy system when walking to and from event venues, including networking event locations during early or late hours.
- Don’t wear your meeting badge on the street. Take it off as soon as you leave the building/venue.
- Don’t carry a lot of cash or credit cards. Leave in your hotel room safe.
- Don’t leave personal property unattended anywhere, anytime.
IV. DRESS CODE
NJAJ is a professional organization. Attendees of events should dress in clean, appropriate business, business casual, or neat casual attire, as the event calls for. Under no circumstances are the following permissible: Attire containing profane, discriminatory, derogatory, sexually explicit, or otherwise objectionable content, which is excessively revealing, or which would violate any other portion of this policy.
V. ANTI-HARASSMENT AND DISCRIMINATION POLICY
NJAJ does not tolerate any form of harassment or discrimination.
“Harassment” includes, but is not limited to, unwanted remarks of a sexual nature, unwelcome comments about someone’s body or personal appearance, and unwelcome attention; physical contact that is unwelcome or uninvited; stalking; threats; or any conduct that is hostile, discriminatory, intimidating, or abusive.
“Discrimination” is conduct motivated by bias towards, or containing a negative reference to: race, ethnicity, national origin, religion or creed, age, pregnancy, gender, gender identity or expression, sex, body shape, personal appearance, sexual orientation, disability or handicap, marital status, parental status, familial status, civil union or domestic partnership status, past or present military service, genetic or cellular traits, or any person’s real or perceived connection to another’s status regarding one of these protected characteristics.
“Discrimination” includes sharing, displaying, distributing, or circulating materials which include objectionable reference to any of the above, or wearing attire which contains objectionable reference to any of the above.
If you experience harassment or discrimination or notice that someone else is the victim of harassment or discrimination, please immediately contact Cornelius J. Larkin, Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-396-0096 so that we can investigate and take appropriate action. If he cannot be immediately contacted, please find an NJAJ officer or a member of the NJAJ Executive Committee.
VI. COMPLAINTS REGARDING ALLEGED VIOLATION OF NJAJ’S EVENT POLICY
A. When A Complaint May Be Made
A complaint regarding an alleged violation of NJAJ’s Event Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy (the “Policy”) may be made at any time, although NJAJ encourages that complaints be made as soon after a possible triggering occurrence happens as can be managed, as a full investigation is best conducted as close to an event as possible.
- How A Complaint May Be Made
The complaint may be made verbally, in writing, or electronically. Complainants are encouraged, though not required, to make complaints in writing in order to minimize miscommunication. The complaint may be made anonymously, though NJAJ encourages any person(s) making a complaint to trust the process and not make the complaint anonymously, since NJAJ’s ability to investigate may be compromised without all pertinent information. There is no guarantee that anonymous complaints will be investigated as it compromises the due process rights of the person named in the complaint.
- To Whom A Complaint May be Made
A complaint regarding an alleged violation of the NJAJ Policy may be made to any NJAJ officer, any member of the NJAJ Executive Committee, or the NJAJ Executive Director. A verbal, written, or electronic complaint will not be considered valid and will not trigger the process described herein unless it is made to one of these persons.
- Persons Who May Be Subject to Complaint
All officers, Board of Governors members, general members of NJAJ, all NJAJ staff, all vendors and their staffers and contractors, and all other guests are expected to abide by the Policy. A complaint may be made about any of these persons. All complaints will be treated equally, regardless of the persons subject to the complaint.
VII. ACTIONS ON COMPLAINT
- Opening File
Once a complaint has been made, NJAJ headquarters will open a file on the matter within a reasonable period of time after the complaint is received, taking into account to whom the complaint was made, how it was made, and when it was made.
NJAJ headquarters will advise the current President and President-Elect of the complaint details as soon as is practical, once the file is opened.
If the standing President was the subject of the complaint or if some other reason she or he feels the need to recuse, the President-Elect will take the place of the President as to all decisions and participation set forth hereafter.
- If Complaint is against a NJAJ Member
If the complaint is against a NJAJ Member, the President will review the gravity of the allegations in the complaint. If the President determines that the gravity of the complaint’s allegations, if accepted as true, could result in the expulsion, suspension or censure of the NJAJ Member, the procedures set forth in Article III, section 3(d) of the Bylaws will be used. Those procedures are summarized herein:
The Board of Governors of NJAJ has the exclusive power to expel, suspend or censure a member for misconduct which brings discredit to the member, the Association, or the profession. The Board of Governors may authorize the President to appoint a committee of three to hear complaints or grievances against a member.
NJAJ will notify the member within thirty (30) days of any complaint made against the member. The notice shall specify the charges against the member and shall advise the member of the time and place of the hearing, which shall be held before the Board of Governors or a committee appointed by the Board.
The member may appear at the hearing, may be represented by counsel, and may present evidence on their behalf. If a committee holds the hearing, the committee shall report its findings in writing to the Board of Governors, which shall then decide whether or not to expel, suspend, or censure the member. The Board of Governors must pass any motion to expel, suspend, or censure the member by a two-thirds vote of the Governors present and voting.
If the President determines a lesser penalty (for example, reprimand, sensitivity training, or community service) would be more appropriate if the NJAJ Member is found to have violated this Policy, then the procedures set forth in VII (C) below shall be used.
- Procedures to Follow on a Complaint against all others and for a NJAJ Member who is not covered by Article VII (B) above
1. Appointment of Investigator
The President, in consultation with NJAJ staff and with any other persons the President feels appropriate (e.g., NJAJ legal counsel, NJAJ staff, other members of the Executive Committee, etc.), will appoint one person to lead the investigation of the complaint. This person shall be a present member of the Executive Committee or a Past President of NJAJ. The investigator shall have the authority to request assistance with the investigation from one or more persons, who may be officers of NJAJ, other past Presidents, or members of the Board of Governors, as she or he deems necessary.
Once appointed, the Investigator shall send written notice of the allegations in the complaint to the person about whom the complaint was made (the “respondent”). The notice shall also explain how the investigation shall be conducted, the respondent’s right to a hearing with an attorney, the potential consequences, and a summary of the appeal process.
- Conduct of Investigation
The investigator and anyone assisting with the investigation shall conduct their investigation with alacrity appropriate to the circumstances, shall review documents or media which may be pertinent, shall speak with (and, as advisable, obtain statements or other written confirmation of fact from) the complainant, the respondent, any witnesses deemed appropriate, and shall do all other things which are reasonable under the circumstances to fully investigate the complaint.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator shall prepare a formal, written communication (the “Finding”) which will adjudicate the complaint as substantiated, partially substantiated, or not substantiated, with a detailed explanation of the reasoning for the adjudication. The Finding shall be given to the respondent along with notice to the respondent that he or she has fifteen (15) days to request a hearing. If the hearing is requested, the Investigator shall notify the complainant that a hearing shall take place.
A hearing shall not take place fewer than fifteen (15) days from the date the complainant is notified of the respondent’s request for a hearing. If a hearing is requested, it will be held either before the NJAJ Board of Governors or a committee of three persons appointed by the Board (“Hearing Officers”). The respondent and the complainant may have attorneys or non-attorney advocates represent them at the hearing.
At the hearing, the Hearing Officers may admit any relevant evidence, including hearsay evidence used to supplement or explain other evidence. Hearsay evidence alone will not be sufficient to support a decision.
At the request of either complainant or respondent or on its own motion, the Hearing Officers may conduct the hearing in private session.
Each party has the right to:
- Make a statement;
- Introduce evidence, testimony, and witnesses;
- Cross-examine opposing parties and witnesses; and
- Rebut evidence and testimony.
The Hearing Officers may relax technical rules of evidence and procedures. The Hearing Officers have the right to exclude all irrelevant, immaterial, or repetitious evidence. The Hearing Officers have the discretion to impose reasonable limits on the time allowed to testify and the number of witnesses.
If the complainant does not appear at the hearing, the Hearing Officers may dismiss the complaint, with or without prejudice, at their discretion.
The Hearing Officers will only take evidence under oath or affirmation.
If one of the Hearing Officers withdraws before issuing a Finding, the remaining Hearing Officers will continue the hearing. The President can decide whether to replace the withdrawn Hearing Officer. If a replacement is named, that replacing Hearing Officer shall decide from the existing record and evidence presented after appointment.
The Hearing Officers shall issue their own Finding, which shall adjudicate the complaint as substantiated, partially substantiated, or not substantiated with a detailed explanation of the reasoning for the adjudication.
- Conclusion of Investigation
If no hearing is held, the Investigator will send the Finding to the NJAJ President and the NJAJ Executive Director. If a hearing was held, then the Hearing Officers shall send their Finding to the NJAJ President and the NJAJ Executive Director which Finding will supersede any Finding by the Investigator.
If the NJAJ President was herself or himself the subject of the investigation, the investigator shall deliver the finding to the President-Elect and to the Executive Director of NJAJ. In the event that the Executive Director was the subject of the complaint, the Executive Director shall not participate in the process from this point forward except as the President or President-Elect may deem appropriate and/or necessary.
Within a reasonable time after receiving the Finding, the President and Executive Director shall consult with such other persons as they deem advisable before communicating with either the complainant or the respondent. Such consultation might include, but not be limited to: relevant program chairs, chairpersons of one or more committees, caucuses or sections, officers of the executive committee, NJAJ legal counsel, NJAJ staff, past Presidents, or members of the Board of Governors.
- Imposition of Consequences For Violations
The President shall have sole discretion as to whether or not to impose consequences, in the event that some or all of a complaint is substantiated or partially substantiated. This discretion shall be exercised with full faith and allegiance to the Policy, to the NJAJ statement of Mission and Values, and with a sense of fundamental fairness. Even if a complaint is substantiated, a President may find one or more extenuating or other circumstances upon which the President may decide not to impose consequences. If the NJAJ Educational Foundation held an independent investigation and hearing on the same matter, the NJAJ President has to reach a decision independent from the Foundation Chair.
The President shall either communicate personally with the complainant and respondent or shall request staff or another officer to do so. This communication shall advise that the investigation was conducted, that it was concluded, that the complaint was either wholly or partially substantiated or not substantiated, and that consequences will be imposed, if appropriate. Disclosure of the nature of the consequences to the complainant shall be in the sole discretion of the NJAJ President.
- Appeals of Decisions
In the event that a President decides not to impose consequences, the complainant has the right, within 30 days of being advised of same, to make a written appeal, which shall be heard and decided by the NJAJ Executive Committee within 30 days of receipt of such appeal. As well, any person or persons upon whom consequences have been imposed may also make such an appeal within the time limits set forth above, and which shall be decided in the manner set forth above.
Absent such an appeal by either a complaining person or by a person subject to consequences, the decision of the President set forth above shall be final and shall conclude the complaint. In the event of an appeal, the decision of the Executive Committee shall be final and shall conclude the complaint.
NJAJ headquarters will retain records of any complaint, investigation, conclusion, appeal and closure for a time period consistent with normal business practice.
- Consequences for Violations
The President has discretion to impose consequences befitting an instance of a substantiated or partially substantiated Policy violation. In determining what consequence to impose, the President shall consider evidence of the offender’s intent, the level of offensiveness, whether threats of violence or actual physical violence occurred, the existence of any past offenses, how the consequence imposed reflects upon NJAJ, and whether remedial measures, such as sensitivity or diversity training, would be appropriate.
Complaints, records of receipt and discussion of same, investigations concerning same, deliberations and conclusions respecting same, and communications regarding same, shall be, at all times, kept confidential by those privy to same, including complainant(s) and subject(s) of same, as well as NJAJ and/or Foundation staff, NJAJ and/or Foundation officers, and any other persons made privy by same.
Witnesses interviewed during any investigation in which the Foundation participates shall be advised of this section of the Policy and requested to honor same.
Any language in an NJAJ Bylaw inconsistent with this subsection shall control.
Adopted July 23, 2019
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