Harassment and Antidiscrimination

It is the policy of the Open Society Foundations to maintain a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity.  Each individual has the right to work in a professional atmosphere that prohibits discrimination, harassment or retaliation.  This policy is intended to educate all Open Society employees about what may constitute discrimination, harassment or retaliation and to notify everyone who works here that the Open Society Foundations will not condone or tolerate discrimination, harassment or retaliation.  This policy also provides information regarding when employees may be eligible for reasonable accommodations.  In addition, this policy establishes a complaint procedure for anyone who believes that he or she has been the subject of harassment, discrimination or retaliation and a process for requesting reasonable accommodations.

Individuals Covered by this Policy

This policy covers all Open Society Foundations officers and employees.  Any type of harassment, whether engaged in by fellow employees, supervisors, or by non-employees with whom the employees come into contact in the course of employment (e.g., Open Society service providers, contractors or employees and officers of other foundations within the Open Society Foundations), is contrary to this policy and will not be tolerated.  The Foundations encourage the reporting of all incidents of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, regardless of who the offender may be.

Equal Employment Opportunity

The Open Society Foundations are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment regardless of race, color, religion, creed, age, national origin, ancestry, alienage, citizenship, sex, pregnancy, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital or partnership status, disability, military status, predisposing genetic characteristics, status as a victim of domestic violence or sex offense or stalking, or any other category protected by law.  This policy applies to all Open Society Foundations employment-related actions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, compensation, assignment, training, and promotion.

Reasonable Accommodations

The Open Society Foundations will provide reasonable accommodations to individuals who have a disability or religion-based need, or who have been subject to domestic violence, a sex offense, or stalking, unless such accommodation imposes an undue hardship on the Foundations.  If you believe that you require a reasonable accommodation to perform your essential job functions, you should contact your supervisor or the director of International Human Resources to request an accommodation.  The Foundations may request that you authorize access to additional information to assess and act on your accommodation request.  The Open Society Foundations will maintain as confidential, to the extent possible, all accommodation requests related to disability or due to domestic violence, a sex offense or stalking, and other related discussions or documents.

Antidiscrimination and Antiharassment

The Open Society Foundations are committed to providing a work environment that is free from unlawful discrimination and harassment.  Actions, words, jokes, or comments based on race, color, religion, creed, age, national origin, ancestry, alienage, citizenship, sex, pregnancy, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital or partnership status, disability, military status, predisposing genetic characteristics, status as a victim of domestic violence or sex offense or stalking, or any other protected category, will not be tolerated.  Harassment (both overt and subtle) is a form of employee misconduct that is demeaning to another person, and undermines the integrity of the employment relationship, and is therefore strictly prohibited. 

Impermissible harassment is defined as verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because he or she is a member of a protected category, when the conduct:

  1. has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment;
  2. has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or
  3. otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities.      

It is not always easy to define exactly what will constitute impermissible harassment. However, regardless of whether any incident rises to the level of harassment, it is Open Society Foundations policy that the following behaviors are inappropriate and offensive and will not be tolerated: epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, or threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts, including acts purported to be “jokes” or “pranks”; and written, electronic or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of his or her membership in one of the above-referenced groups.  It is also against Open Society Foundations policy to discriminate against or harass an individual because of his or her association with someone who is a member of one of the protected groups.

Sexual harassment is a unique form of discrimination which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.  Such conduct constitutes sexual harassment when it explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

It is not easy to define exactly what actions or course of conduct will constitute sexual harassment in any particular case because it will depend on the specific facts and circumstances, including how pervasive, abusive or serious the behavior is.  Sexual harassment may include explicit sexual propositions, suggestive or persistent comments of a sexual nature, the display of obscene or sexually-oriented material, sexually oriented kidding or teasing, or jokes about gender-specific traits, foul or obscene language or gestures, and physical contact such as patting, pinching, or brushing against another’s body, and any similar behavior which is unwelcome or offensive. Sex-based harassment—that is, harassment not involving sexual activity or language—may also constitute discrimination if it is severe or pervasive and directed at employees because of their sex.

Conduct prohibited by these policies is unacceptable in the workplace and in any work- related setting outside the workplace, such as during business trips, business meetings and business-related social events.

All employees are responsible for possessing an in-depth knowledge of these Harassment and Antidiscrimination policies and procedures.  Additionally, supervisors and managers are expected to apply this knowledge on an active and continuous basis, and they will be held accountable for their conduct in this regard. 

Complaint and Investigation Procedure

Any employee who believes that she or he is being discriminated against or harassed should inform the alleged offender that his or her behavior is unwelcome.  In addition, or if the employee is uncomfortable raising the concern directly with the alleged offender, we ask that individuals who believe they have been subjected to discrimination or harassment report the incident(s) to the director of International Human Resources, the general counsel, or to other individuals whom the Open Society Foundations have designated to receive complaints and investigate where warranted.  From time to time, the investigators charged with taking and investigating reports of discrimination or harassment may change and the Foundations will inform all employees of such changes. 

We ask for prompt reporting of complaints so that rapid and appropriate action may be taken.  However, due to the sensitive nature of these concerns, we will not impose a time limitation for reporting harassment complaints.  Late reporting of a complaint will not, in and of itself, prevent the Foundations from responding to the complaint.

The Open Society Foundations also encourage individuals to report perceived acts of harassment or discrimination by non-employees, such as employees or officers of other foundations within the Opens Society Foundations, volunteers, interns, vendors, contract personnel, other service providers, and any other non-employee.  Those reports should be made to the director of International Human Resources or to one of the persons charged with receiving and investigating complaints.

The Open Society Foundations will promptly investigate any and all reports or complaints of discrimination, harassment or other violations of these Harassment and Antidiscrimination policies and procedures. The Foundations will endeavor to maintain confidentiality throughout the investigatory process to the extent practical and appropriate under the circumstances.

Upon completing the investigation of a harassment complaint, the findings will be communicated to the complainant and alleged offender.

If the Open Society Foundations find that harassment occurred, the harasser will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.  Although the specific corrective disciplinary actions against the harasser will be within the Foundations’ discretion, it may include: verbal or written reprimand; referral to appropriate counseling; withholding of a promotion or bonus; reassignment; temporary suspension; and/or termination of employment.

In addition, managers and supervisors who are found by the Foundations not to have fulfilled their obligations under this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

If the complainant or the alleged offender is dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, either individual has the right to seek reconsideration of the decision.  The dissatisfied party should submit his or her written comments in a timely manner to the director of International Human Resources, who will forward the file to the president of the Open Society Foundations for review and determination.

No-Retaliation Policy

The Open Society Foundations prohibit retaliation against any individual who, in good faith, reports discrimination or harassment, opposes discriminatory conduct or participates in an investigation of such reports.  Retaliation against an individual for reporting harassment or discrimination, opposing discriminatory conduct or participating in an investigation of a claim of harassment or discrimination is a serious violation of this policy and, like harassment or discrimination itself, will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED CONDUCT THEY BELIEVE IS CONTRARY TO THIS POLICY HAVE THE OBLIGATION TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS COMPLAINT PROCEDURE.