NANOGrav Physics Frontier Center Anti-Harassment Policy

The individual member institutions of the NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center, collectively referred to as NANOGrav, are committed to providing an atmosphere that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. In order to foster this environment, NANOGrav prohibits and does not tolerate discrimination and harassment of any form between its members and/or their employees and is committed to ensuring an environment free from all forms of discrimination and harassment.  Harassment, sexual or otherwise, is a form of prohibited discrimination that undermines the integrity of NANOGrav activities.

1. Definition of Harassment

Harassment on the basis of any other legally protected characteristic is strictly prohibited. NANOGrav defines harassment as conduct that (1) is of any type (oral, written including electronic or graphic, or physical); (2) is directed towards or against a person because of the person's legally protected status such as but not limited to race, age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, or disability; and (3) unreasonably interferes with the individual's participation in NANOGrav activities or programs or creates an environment that a reasonable person would find threatening or intimidating. This conduct includes, but is not limited to: epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; denigrating jokes and display or circulation of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group, based on a legally protected characteristic. Even in cases where conduct is not directed at a specific individual, offensive or inappropriate behavior may constitute as harassment and cannot be tolerated in a professional, collegial environment.

2. Definition of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is one type of prohibited harassment and refers to unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, such as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Behavior and language that are welcome/acceptable to one person many be unwelcome/offensive to another. Consequently, individuals must ensure that their words and actions communicate respect for others. This is especially important for those in positions of authority since individuals with lower rank or status may be reluctant to express their objections or discomfort regarding unwelcome behavior.

3. Scope of Policy

This policy applies to all participants in NANOGrav activities, including scientists, students, guests, staff, contractors, and exhibitors. Nothing in this policy is intended to supplant an individual member institution’s policies or procedures relating to discrimination and/or harassment.

4. NANOGrav Member Advocates

The NANOGrav Management Team appoints individuals as Member Advocates to serve as a resource for any individual NANOGrav member. The appointments will last for at least 2 years and be staggered in time by one year so there is a one year overlap between current Member Advocates and a newly appointed ones. Any questions regarding this policy should be directed to a NANOGrav Member Advocate.

5. Inquiries about and Reporting of Concerns

Any individual covered by this policy who believes that he or she may have been subjected to harassment, hereafter referred to as the Concerned Individual, may contact one of the designated NANOGrav Member Advocates or a member of the Management Team, hereafter referred to as the Contact Person. The Concerned Individual can, but is not required to first discuss his or her concerns directly with the alleged offender.  The Contact Person can serve as an independent and neutral resource to provide assistance to the Concerned Individual in exploring options for resolving the concerns at an informal level, as well as identifying resources and other reporting options for the Concerned Individual.

The Contact Person will maintain all information received from the Concerned Individual as confidential, and will only share it with others on a strict need-to-know basis after consulting with and receiving the agreement of the Concerned Individual. However, in certain cases, the Contact Person may be required by law or by the Contact Person’s own institutional policy to report the conduct to an appropriate office, such as an institution’s Title IX office. In such case, the Contact Person will inform the Concerned Individual of this obligation and proceed with discretion. If a Concerned Individual has questions or concerns about whether a Contact Person can maintain their information confidentially or may have additional reporting obligations, the Concerned Individual should discuss those questions with the Contact Person or with a Member Advocate prior to revealing any confidential information.

Rather than work with a Member Advocate, Concerned Individuals are encouraged to directly contact relevant offices at their own institution such as a Title IX office. Students in the United States may also contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Individuals are also encouraged to report criminal conduct to the local police.

6. Investigations

Certain types of reports may require additional investigation. To the extent possible, such investigations should be carried out by the relevant institutional offices (such as the Title IX office or their equivalents). These offices have expertise in the relevant laws like Title IX and specialized training in conducting discrimination and harassment investigations. Individuals affiliated with NANOGrav are expected to cooperate with such investigations and to share relevant information with the investigators to the extent permitted by the law. If the investigation relates to a NANOGrav activity, the Management Team will request the investigating office to share its conclusions with the Management Team to the extent permitted by relevant privacy laws such as FERPA.

7. NANOGrav Responsive Action

Individuals engaging in conduct prohibited by this policy as well as those making allegations of harassment in bad faith may be subject to disciplinary action. Such actions range from a verbal warning from the NANOGrav Management Team, to the reporting of their behavior to their employer, to ejection from the collaboration. If a member is found to have violated this policy, the Management Team will discuss the case and may decide to remove the member from NANOGrav without the need for a vote by Senior Personnel. Members who are removed may be eligible to reapply for NANOGrav membership after a specified amount of time.

8. Retaliation Prohibited

NANOGrav will not tolerate any form of retaliation against Concerned Individuals for raising issues in good faith under this policy, alleged offenders, or people who assist in the investigation. Retaliation is a serious violation of this policy and, like harassment or discrimination itself, will be subject to disciplinary action.