Reporting Unacceptable Behavior at ACM Activities

The first priority should always be personal safety. An individual who experiences harassment should take immediate action if needed to remain safe.

The procedures here describe how to report unacceptable behavior at ACM activities. The Policy Against Harassment at ACM Activities describes actions that constitute harassment.

What Should I Do If I Experience or Witness Unacceptable Behavior?

In the event of unacceptable behavior, you may wish to inform a person in authority. Those in authority to act in these cases include the event organizers (e.g., event chair, a SIG leader, or an onsite ACM staff member), or volunteers who have been designated to handle such complaints at this activity. These individuals can provide information about the process for handling complaints or handling immediate onsite needs.

Note that there may be cases (such as those involving Title IX issues in the United States and venue- or employer-specific policies) where an on-site person who is informed of harassment will be required to file a complaint.

Any investigation or further action requires that a written communication be made to ACM. Report the incident using the form for Reporting Violations of the ACM Policy Against Harassment. Prompt reporting is critical so that ACM can take action to stop the conduct before it is repeated. All reports will be followed up promptly, with further investigation conducted where needed to confirm facts or resolve disputed facts. In conducting its investigations, ACM will strive to keep the identity of the individual making the report as confidential as possible beyond the investigation.

ACM prohibits any threats or acts of retaliation against individuals who report unacceptable behavior or provide information in connection with a report by another individual. ACM considers a threat or act of retaliation to be as serious an offense as harassment itself and will handle reports of retaliation accordingly.

What Should I Do as a Person in Authority?

As a person in authority at an ACM event, you need to understand how to handle possible incidents. Those in authority include the event chair, a SIG leader, an onsite ACM staff member, and other event organizers who have been designated to handle such complaints at this activity.

Your primary role as a person in authority is to (a) lend a sympathetic ear and (b) explain procedures for reporting unacceptable behavior if a person wishes to pursue further action. In general, you should not attempt to mediate or resolve complaints informally.

If the situation appears to be an emergency (e.g., requiring medical assistance or if there has been an overt threat of violence), you should use judgment and common sense. Never presume, however, that an individual would welcome your involvement. Instead, tell the person to take any step he/she feels is needed to ensure personal safety.

If the immediate emergency extends to more than one individual, event organizers may need to take stronger actions, such as addressing the event attendees as a whole, barring further event attendance and participation by specific attendees, or imposing requirements on an attendee’s further participation. Such decisions should be kept as minimally intrusive as possible, and must be made with the awareness that an allegation is not the same as a determination of guilt. Any post-event investigations, sanctions, or other actions should be handled by using the form for Reporting Violations of the ACM Policy Against Harassment.

If an event uses contractors, the event organizers should make sure the contractors are told to report any incident to a person in authority rather than dealing with it themselves.

What Enforcement Procedures Will be Followed?

When receiving a report of unacceptable behavior, ACM’s President, CEO, or COO will review and direct appropriate follow up. Following investigation of the complaint, the Chair, in consultation with the executive, will review all materials and determine whether the complaint violates ACM’s Policy Against Harassment at ACM Activities. COPE will make a final, binding decision regarding whether ACM’s policy has been violated and the consequences of any such violation.  On behalf of ACM, the executive will inform the complainant and subject of the decision.

The Committee may take actions including, but not limited to, suspension or termination of membership in ACM, exclusion from ACM leadership positions, exclusion from participating in future ACM events, and/or exclusion from deriving other benefits from ACM activities. Such actions may be applied regardless of whether or not the offender is a member of ACM.

The same actions may be taken toward any individual who engages in retaliation or who knowingly makes a false allegation of harassment.

ACM endeavors to keep proceedings under this Policy as confidential as is reasonably possible. Participants in any proceeding under this Policy, including the complainant, subject, and witnesses involved in resolving the complaint, are expected to adhere to this confidentiality policy. However, participants may, at their own expense, consult legal counsel provided they have first agreed to keep the matter confidential. Violation of this expectation of confidentiality may be considered a violation of ACM’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

Any appeal must be submitted within thirty (30) days after notification of the decision. The appeal must be submitted to the ACM President who will endeavor to resolve appeals within sixty (60) days after the appeal is made. The appeal will be decided based on consideration of the applicable record as a whole. The President will communicate their decision on the appeal in writing to the CEO, the Chair of COPE, and the Respondent, and, if the appeal results in a change in determination or sanction, they will additionally report the outcome of the decision along with justification for the change to the Complainant and members of the COPE Committee involved in the investigation or on the subcommittee. The President’s decision is final.

Enforcement of ACM Policies

ACM has adopted several key policies that span across its many computing disciplines and research practices. To enforce these policies, ACM has developed procedures for adhering to and reporting violations and measures for addressing suspected cases of violation.