conduct and harassment policy


Adopted by the GSA Executive Board June 2020


Harassment of German Studies Association (“GSA”) employees, members, or volunteers and other individuals attending (“attendee”) GSA operated, sponsored and/or affiliated events on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, disability, or other basis, including sexual harassment (as defined and protected by applicable law) is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.


Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment has been defined generally as including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature whenever: (1) submission to the conduct is either an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment; (2) an individual's reaction to the conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting that individual; (3) the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual's work performance; or (4) the conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

No employee, member, volunteer, or attendee should be subjected to sexual harassment or unsolicited and unwelcome sexual overtures, nor should any employee, member, volunteer, or attendee be led to believe that any benefit will in any way depend upon “cooperation” of a sexual nature.

Sexual harassment is not limited to demands for sexual favors.  It also may include such actions as: (1) sex-oriented verbal “kidding,” “teasing,” or jokes; (2) repeated offensive 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) inappropriate physical contact.

Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature or consensual personal and social relationships without a discriminatory employment effect. It refers to behavior that is not welcome and that is personally intimidating, hostile, or offensive.


Other Unlawful Harassment or Conduct

Harassment of any kind, including on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, marital status, or disability is also prohibited. Harassment may include such actions as: (1) jokes or verbal “kidding,” or “teasing;” (2) verbal abuse and epithets; (3) degrading comments; (4) the display of offensive objects and pictures; (5) conduct or comments of a lewd or lascivious nature; and (6) other conduct that the individual might reasonably find to be intimidating, hostile, offensive, coercive, or threatening.


Scope of Policy

This policy prohibiting harassment, whether sexual or of another nature, is not limited to relationships between and among employees, members and volunteers, but also extends to interaction with attendees and vendors.  No officer, director, members, or other volunteer shall subject any employee, member, volunteer, attendee, or vendor to sexual or other harassment of any nature, including that conduct described above.



Members, staff, or guests who in good faith believe that they have been aggrieved by or witnessed conduct prohibited by this policy should contact the GSA Complaints Team, which will interview the complainant and (if different) the person subject to harassment. Providing the latter consents to further investigation, the committee will gather relevant information and issue a report to the Executive Director. The GSA will review each report and endeavor to respond proportionally and fairly. Names of complainants will be kept confidential to the extent possible. The Executive Council reviews the case and determines whether the harassment policy has been violated and appropriate consequences therefor. These can be appealed to the Chair of the DEI Committee. If s/he considers the appeal to have merit, the Executive Director will appoint a review committee of 3 Board members whose decision will be final.


Conference Registration

Registration for annual conferences of the GSA requires acknowledgement of, and agreement to abide by, this policy.