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Equal Employment Opportunity, Nondiscrimination, and Anti-harassment

  • Last updated
  • May 29, 2019
  • Contact
  • Open Society Foundations
    224 West 57th Street
    New York, NY 10019
    United States
    P. +1-212-548-0600
    F. +1-212-548-4600
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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 accommodationsIt is the policy of the Open Society Institute (“Open Society Foundations” or “OSF”) 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 promotes equal employment opportunities and prohibits discriminatory practices, including harassment and retaliation. Therefore, OSF expects that all relationships among persons in the workplace will be business- like and free of bias, prejudice and illegal harassment.

This policy is intended to educate all OSF employees about what may constitute discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, and to notify everyone who works here that OSF prohibits and will not condone or tolerate unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation. This policy includes a complaint procedure, which is described in the “Complaint Procedure” section below, and should be utilized by anyone who believes that they have been the subject of harassment, discrimination or retaliation, and/or by anyone who believes they have observed harassment, discrimination, or retaliation in the workplace. This policy also provides information regarding when employees may be eligible for reasonable accommodations and how to seek such accommodations.

Individuals Covered by this Policy

This policy applies to all OSF officers and employees and paid and unpaid interns as well as applicants, all of which are referred to in in this policy as “employees”, (regardless of immigration status), and prohibits conduct described in this policy whether engaged in by fellow employees, including by a supervisor or manager, or by someone not directly connected to Open Society Foundations (e.g., an outside vendor, consultant, grantee, partner, or visitor). OSF encourages the reporting of all incidents of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, regardless of who the offender may be.

With regard to non-employees, the protections and prohibitions against sexual harassment as set forth in this policy apply to non-employees who provide services to Open Society Foundations (including contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and consultants) while they are on OSF premises and/or while engaged in conducting business for or on behalf of Open Society Foundations (“covered non-employees”). Covered non-employees include persons commonly referred to as “gig” workers and temporary workers, as well as persons providing equipment repair, cleaning services, or any other services provided pursuant to a contract with Open Society Foundations. Therefore, this policy: (i) prohibits sexual harassment engaged in by covered non-employees, whether directed at a fellow covered non-employee or an employee; and (ii) prohibits sexual harassment directed at covered non-employees, whether engaged in by a fellow covered non-employee or by an employee of Open Society Foundations.

Conduct Covered by this Policy

Conduct prohibited by this policy 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 or parties. Calls, texts, emails and social media usage by employees in violation of this policy may constitute unlawful workplace harassment, even if they occur away from Open Society Foundations premises, on personal devices, or during non-work hours.

This policy should not, and may not, be used as a basis for excluding or separating individuals of a particular gender, or any other protected characteristic, from participating in business or work-related social activities or discussions in order to avoid allegations of harassment. The law and the policies of Open Society Foundations prohibit disparate treatment on the basis of sex or any other protected characteristic, with regard to terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The prohibitions contained in this policy are intended to complement and further these policies, not to form the basis of an exception to them.

Equal Employment Opportunity

It is the policy of OSF to ensure equal employment opportunity in recruitment, hiring, compensation, benefits, promotion, leave of absence, termination and all other terms and conditions of employment to all employees without discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, age, national origin, creed, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital or civil partnership/union status, familial status, genetic information, predisposition or carrier status, military or veteran status, domestic violence victim status, arrest or conviction record to extent required by applicable law, alienage or citizenship status, unemployment status, sexual violence or stalking victim status, caregiver status, credit history, or any other characteristic protected by law.

All applicants and employees are entitled to be free from discrimination because of such individual’s legally protected status or because of such applicant’s or employee’s relationship or association with an individual in a legally protected group, and OSF strictly prohibits such discrimination.

OSF expects all employees to share in its commitment to equal employment opportunity and will not tolerate any acts of unlawful discrimination in OSF’s workplace.

Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment

OSF is committed to providing a work environment where all persons can work together safely and productively, free from unlawful discrimination and harassment.

OSF prohibits harassment, as defined below. Harassing conduct includes, but is not limited to: epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes and display or circulation in the workplace of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group (including through posting on walls, email, text message, instant messenger, social media, or other electronic communication).

Definitions of Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is unlawful under federal, state and, where applicable, local laws, as well as a violation of Open Society Foundations’ policies. Sexual harassment may subject Open Society Foundations to liability, and harassers also may be individually subject to liability. All employees are required to work in a manner that prevents sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, self-identified or perceived sex, gender identity or expression, and the status of being transgender. Sexual harassment can occur between any individuals, regardless of their sex, gender or sexual orientation.

For purposes of this policy, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (i) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; (ii) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or (iii) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, even if the reporting individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment. Sexual harassment that occurs when a person in authority tries to trade job benefits for sexual favors is also called ”quid pro quo” harassment. Job benefits in this context can include hiring, promotion, continued employment or any other terms, conditions or privileges of employment.

Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle and not so subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or different genders. The following is a non-exclusive list of some of the types of acts that may be unlawful sexual harassment and that are strictly prohibited:

  • Physical acts of a sexual nature, such as touching, pinching, patting, kissing, hugging, grabbing, brushing against another employee’s body or poking another employee’s body, as well as rape, sexual battery, molestation or attempts to commit these assaults.
  • Unwanted sexual advances or propositions, such as requests for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning the target’s job performance evaluation, a promotion, or other job benefits or detriments.
  • Subtle or obvious pressure for unwelcome sexual activities.
  • Sexually oriented gestures, words, signs, noises, remarks, jokes, pranks, innuendo or comments about a person’s sexuality or sexual experience, which create a hostile work environment.
  • Sexually explicit or derogatory statements or sexually discriminatory remarks made by someone which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, or which interfere with the recipient’s job performance.
  • Commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies.
  • Leering, catcalls, or other insulting or obscene comments or gestures.
  • Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere in the workplace, such as displaying or circulating pictures, posters, calendars, graffiti, objects, promotional material, reading materials or other materials that are sexually demeaning or pornographic (including through posting on walls, e-mail, text message, instant messenger, social media, or other electronic communication).
  • Hostile actions taken against an individual because of that individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and the status of being transgender, such as interfering with, destroying or damaging a person’s workstation, tools or equipment, or otherwise interfering with the individual’s ability to perform the job; sabotaging an individual’s work; intimidation; and bullying, yelling and name-calling.
  • Sex stereotyping—i.e., when conduct or personality traits are considered inappropriate simply because they may not conform to other people’s ideas or perceptions about how individuals of a particular sex should act or look.
  • Other physical, verbal or visual conduct of a sexual nature.

Sex-based harassment—that is, harassment not involving sexual activity or language (e.g., male manager yells only at female employees and not males)—may also constitute discrimination if it is severe or pervasive and directed at employees because of their sex.

Harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic is also strictly prohibited. Under this policy, harassment is verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of his/her race, color, religion, age, national origin, creed, disability, pregnancy, marital or civil partnership/union status, familial status, genetic information, predisposition or carrier status, military or veteran status, domestic violence victim status, arrest or conviction record to extent required by applicable law, alienage or citizenship status, unemployment status, sexual violence or stalking victim status, caregiver status, credit history, or any other characteristic protected by law or that of his/her relatives, friends or associates, and that: (i) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment; (ii) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or (iii) otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities.

OSF’s expectations regarding appropriate workplace conduct are higher and broader than those imposed by the law, such that it is possible for conduct not to violate law but still to violate this policy, and potentially subject an employee to termination or other discipline.

OSF recognizes that staff members come to the workplace from a wide variety of backgrounds and with a wide range of personal values and behavioral preferences. Therefore, OSF has provided this guidance regarding behavior that OSF prohibits, regardless of a staff member’s level of seniority, length of employment at OSF, or value in other respects to OSF, regardless of whether the person engaging in the conduct intends any harm by this behavior, and regardless of whether the behavior is or was considered acceptable in other workplaces, cultures, or settings in which the person engaging in the behavior has lived or worked.

Retaliation

OSF prohibits retaliation against any individual who reports discrimination or harassment, opposes discriminatory or harassing conduct, or participates in an investigation of such reports. Retaliation against an individual for reporting harassment or discrimination, opposing discriminatory or harassing conduct, or participating in an investigation of a claim of discrimination or harassment is a serious violation of this policy and, like discrimination or harassment itself, will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Any individual who believes they have been subject to such retaliation should inform their immediate supervisor, the Global Director of Human Resources, an HR Partner, the General Counsel, or the Associate General Counsel handling employment-related matters. Individuals may also seek assistance in other available forums, as explained below in the section on Legal Protections and External Remedies.

For purposes of this policy, retaliation includes any action that could discourage an individual from coming forward to make or support a claim of discrimination or harassment. Such retaliation is unlawful under federal, state, and, where applicable, local law. Adverse action need not be job-related or occur on Open Society Foundations premises to constitute unlawful retaliation.

The New York State Human Rights Law protects any individual who has engaged in “protected activity.” Protected activity occurs when a person has:

  • made a complaint of discrimination or harassment, either internally or with any anti- discrimination agency;
  • testified or assisted in a proceeding involving discrimination or harassment under any applicable anti-discrimination law;
  • opposed discrimination or harassment, including reporting that another employee has been discriminated against or harassed, by making a verbal or informal complaint to their immediate supervisor, the Global Director of Human Resources, an HR Partner, the General Counsel, or the Associate General Counsel encouraged a fellow employee to report harassment.

Even if the alleged harassment does not turn out to rise to the level of a violation of law, the individual is protected from retaliation if the person had a good faith belief that the practices were unlawful. However, the retaliation provision is not intended to protect persons making intentionally false charges of harassment.

Policy Compliance

All employees are responsible for possessing a thorough knowledge of and complying with OSF’s Equal Employment Opportunity, Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment Policy.

Conduct prohibited by this policy is unacceptable and forbidden in the workplace, whether it occurs on OSF’s premises or at any work-related setting outside the workplace, such as during business meetings, business-related social events, or business-related travel.

Appropriate remedial and/or disciplinary action will be taken against any employee who violates this policy and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue.

Complaint Procedure

Open Society Foundations strongly urges the reporting of all incidents of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, regardless of the offender’s identity or position. Any harassing conduct, even a single incident, can be reported under this policy. Individuals who have experienced conduct that they believe is contrary to Open Society Foundations’ policy or who have concerns about such matters are strongly encouraged to report such behavior and file their complaints as described below with the Global Director of Human Resources, an HR Partner, the General Counsel, or the Associate General Counsel handling employment-related matters before the conduct becomes severe or pervasive. Anyone who witnesses or becomes aware of potential instances of discrimination, harassment or retaliation should also report such behavior to the designated representatives identified above. Individuals should feel free, but should not feel obligated, to raise their concerns with their immediate supervisor first before bringing the matter to the attention of one of the other OSF designated representatives identified above.

Important Notice to All Employees: Please note that an employee may find their rights to pursue legal action more limited under Federal Law if they have not reported conduct pursuant to this policy. Also, please note, federal, state and local laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment establish specific time frames for initiating a legal proceeding pursuant to those laws.

Preventing Discrimination and Harassment Is Everyone’s Responsibility

Early reporting and intervention have proven to be the most effective method of resolving actual or perceived incidents of harassment or discrimination. Therefore, while no fixed reporting period has been established, Open Society Foundations strongly urges the prompt reporting of complaints or concerns so that rapid and constructive action can be taken.

The availability of this complaint procedure does not preclude individuals who believe they are being subjected to prohibited conduct from promptly advising the offender that his or her behavior is unwelcome and requesting that it be discontinued. However, advising the offender that his or her behavior is unwelcome and/or requesting that it be discontinued is not required by this policy and shall not constitute a complaint under this procedure even if the offender is one of the designated representatives identified above.

Reports of discrimination, harassment or retaliation may be made verbally or in writing. A form for submission of a written complaint is attached to this policy, and all employees are encouraged to use this complaint form. Employees who are reporting discrimination, harassment or retaliation on behalf of other employees should also use the complaint form and note that it is on another employee’s behalf. Employees and covered non-employees may also seek assistance in other available forums, as explained below in the section on Legal Protections and External Remedies.

Supervisor Responsibilities

All supervisors and managers who receive a complaint or information about suspected discrimination, harassment or retaliation, who observe what may be such behavior or who for any reason suspect that discrimination, harassment or retaliation is occurring, are required to report such suspected behavior to the Global Director of Human Resources, an HR Partner, or the General Counsel.

In addition to being subject to discipline if they engage in discrimination or harassment themselves, supervisors and managers will be subject to discipline for failing to report suspected discrimination or, harassment or otherwise knowingly allowing discrimination or harassment to continue. Supervisors and managers will also be subject to discipline for engaging in any retaliation.

Investigation

OSF will promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigate any and all reports or complaints of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation submitted pursuant to this policy to ensure appropriate due process as outlined below.

All employees, including managers and supervisors, are required to cooperate with any internal investigation of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

While the process may vary from case to case, an investigation may involve, as applicable and without limitation , interviews with the parties involved (including witnesses, as relevant), review of documents relevant to the investigation and reasonably available or accessible, and notification to the complainant and the individual(s) about whom the complaint was made of the conclusions of the investigation.

When the investigation is complete, the investigator(s) will discuss their findings with the Global Director of Human Resources and the General Counsel. After receiving recommendations and/or guidance, the Global Director of Human Resources will determine whether OSF’s policy has been violated, and if so, what form of corrective action is most appropriate.

If you file a complaint of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, OSF will inform you of its determination as to whether OSF’s policy was violated. However, OSF will not disclose to you whether any disciplinary action has been taken because discipline is a confidential matter between OSF and the individual who is the subject of the corrective action. Discipline can take many forms, and you should not assume that disciplinary measures have not been implemented simply because OSF does not publicize the disciplinary measure.

Responsive Action

Any employee or covered non-employee who violates this policy will be subject to remedial and/or disciplinary action. Responsive action may include, for example, training, referral to counseling, monitoring of the offender and/or disciplinary action such as warning, reprimand, withholding of a promotion or pay increase, reduction of wages, demotion, reassignment, temporary suspension without pay or termination, as Open Society Foundations believes appropriate under the circumstances.

Legal Protections and External Remedies

Discrimination and harassment are not only prohibited by OSF but are also prohibited by federal, state and, where applicable, local law. Aside from the internal process at Open Society Foundations, employees may also choose to pursue legal remedies with the following governmental entities at any time.

New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL)

The New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), codified as N.Y. Executive Law, art. 15,

§ 290 et seq., applies to employers in New York State with regard to discrimination and harassment, and protects employees, paid or unpaid interns and covered non-employees, regardless of immigration status. A complaint alleging violation of the NYSHRL may be filed either with the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR) or in New York State Supreme Court.

Complaints with DHR may be filed at any time within one year of the discrimination or harassment. If an individual did not file at DHR, they can sue directly in state court under the NYSHRL, within three years of the alleged discrimination. An individual may not file with DHR if they have already filed a NYSHRL complaint in state court.

Complaining internally to Open Society Foundations does not extend an individual’s time to file with DHR or in court. The one year or three years is counted from the date of the most recent incident of discrimination or harassment.

Individuals do not need an attorney to file a complaint with DHR, and there is no cost to file with DHR.

DHR will investigate the complaint and determine whether there is probable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred. Probable cause cases are forwarded to a public hearing before an administrative law judge. If discrimination is found after a hearing, DHR has the power to award relief, which varies but may include requiring your employer to take action to stop the harassment, or redress the damage caused, including paying monetary damages, attorneys’ fees and civil fines.

DHR’s main office contact information is: NYS Division of Human Rights, One Fordham Plaza, Fourth Floor, Bronx, New York 10458, (718) 741-8400, www.dhr.ny.gov.

Contact DHR at (888) 392-3644 or visit dhr.ny.gov/complaint for more information about filing a complaint. The website has a complaint form that can be downloaded, filled out, notarized and mailed to DHR. The website also contains contact information for DHR’s regional offices across New York State.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal anti- discrimination laws, including Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act (codified as 42

U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.). An individual can file a complaint with the EEOC anytime within 300 days from the discrimination harassment. There is no cost to file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate the complaint, and determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination or harassment has occurred, at which point the EEOC will issue a Right to Sue letter permitting the individual to file a complaint in federal court.

The EEOC does not hold hearings or award relief, but may take other action including pursuing cases in federal court on behalf of complaining parties. Federal courts may award remedies if discrimination or harassment is found to have occurred. In general, private employers must have at least 15 employees to come within the jurisdiction of the EEOC.

An employee alleging discrimination at work can file a “Charge of Discrimination.” The EEOC has district, area and field offices where complaints can be filed. Individuals can contact the EEOC by calling 1-800-669-4000 (1-800-669-6820 (TTY)), visiting their website at www.eeoc.gov or via email at info@eeoc.gov.

If an individual filed an administrative complaint with DHR, DHR will file the complaint with the EEOC to preserve the right to proceed in federal court.

Local Protections

Many localities enforce laws protecting individuals from harassment and discrimination. For example, employees who work in New York City may file complaints of discrimination or harassment with the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Employees may contact their main office at Law Enforcement Bureau of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, 22 Reade Street, 1st Floor, New York, New York; call 311 or (212) 306-7450; or visit www.nyc.gov/html/cchr/html/home/home.shtml.

Contact the Police Department

If the harassment involves unwanted physical touching, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime. Individuals may contact the local police department.

Reasonable Accommodations

OSF is committed to complying with all applicable provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and with state and local disability laws as applicable. OSF’s policy is not to discriminate against any qualified employee or applicant with regard to any term or condition of employment because of such individual’s disability or perceived disability, so long as the employee can perform the essential functions of the job. OSF will provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified individual with a disability who has made OSF aware of their disability, provided that such accommodation does not constitute an undue hardship on OSF. OSF will also provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified individual based on pregnancy, religion, or based on a need due to having been subject to domestic violence, sex offense, or stalking, where the employee has made OSF aware of their need for a reasonable accommodation, provided that such accommodation does not constitute an undue hardship on OSF.

If you believe that you require a reasonable accommodation to perform your essential job functions, you should contact your supervisor, the Global Director of Human Resources, or your HR Partner to request an accommodation.

In evaluating the request, OSF may require information concerning any workplace barriers that may need to be accommodated, or potential accommodation(s) that might be afforded to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of their job. This discussion may involve an interactive communication process to ascertain what, if any, accommodations can reasonably be provided.

OSF will determine the reasonableness of the requested accommodation. In doing so, OSF may consider various factors to determine whether the requested accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business of OSF, including, but not limited to the nature and cost of the accommodation, the availability of alternative accommodations, and the accommodation’s impact on the operation of OSF, including its impact on the ability of other employees to perform their duties and on OSF’s ability to conduct business. OSF is not required to provide an accommodation to a qualified individual if such accommodation poses an undue hardship to OSF.

The law does not require OSF to make the best possible accommodation or the accommodation requested by the employee, to reallocate essential job functions, or to provide personal use items (i.e., eyeglasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, etc.).

OSF may request written documentation from an employee who seeks an accommodation, including without limitation from a doctor, psychologist, rehabilitation counselor, or other professional with knowledge of the employee’s limitations. All medical information received by OSF will be treated as confidential to the extent permissible by law. OSF will also maintain as confidential, to the extent possible, all accommodation requests and other discussions or documents related to accommodation requests as a result of domestic violence, sex offense, or stalking.

OSF will inform the employee of its decision on any accommodation request.

Questions

An employee who has questions or concerns regarding this policy shall contact the Global Director of Human Resources, or one of the HR Partners located in the United States.

  • Last updated
  • May 29, 2019
  • Contact
  • Open Society Foundations
    224 West 57th Street
    New York, NY 10019
    United States
    P. +1-212-548-0600
    F. +1-212-548-4600
Contact us

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