I suggest we have a need for a policy statement on sexual harassment.
Looking backwards briefly:
We have missed something very fundamental. In short, confidentiality.
In any grievance procedure, neither the victim or the alleged perpetrator of sexual harassment should be named at all.
Looking forward now:
The aim of a policy on harassment is to promote a safer place on-line and a place where all forum members are encouraged to respect each members dignity, privacy, and equality.
The policy could include advice on staying safe on-line, and advice on handling abusive behaviour.
The policy Should include the support and assistance that can be expected by a victim of harassment.
If done well, such a policy could be a template of good practice and help developers of on-line games.
Also, such a policy, shows our community is serious about safety on-line.
thirdly, it is another step in our healing process.
Realistically, in a small organisation, there will be limits to the support that can be offered.
The support may or may not include any of the following:
advice, referrals, a grievance procedure, a settlement by arbitration, or assistance with police reporting.
It should be clear, in any arbitration or grievance procedure, whether this is strictly limited to forum usage or wider issues.
At the current time, with staff numbers and pressures, it is quite possible that only forum related incidents can be considered in a grievance.
However, this does not mean advice on wider issues is ignored.
If there is a grievance procedure at all, the policy should include the steps that staff will take when receiving a grievance.
My main point in all this, is that confidentiality is a vital corner stone in any grievance or arbitration procedure.
There are many examples of policies on bullying, harassment, and victimization out there to look at.
Here is a cut and paste, that happens to come from employment law in South Africa
a) Allegations of sexual harassment will be dealt with seriously, expeditiously, sensitively and confidentially.
b) Individuals will be protected against victimisation, retaliation for lodging grievances and from false accusations
c) Care should be taken during any investigation of a grievance of sexual harassment that the aggrieved person is not disadvantaged, and that the position of other parties is not prejudiced if the grievance is found to be unwarranted.
Just for clarity, I have substituted the word individuals for staff, but the code of conduct makes it plain that customers are included in law for the purposes of grievances.
Am I making a legal point here? No, it is up to the owners of this site and other gaming sites to decide what their statutory duties are in their own country.
My point, regardless of the law, is that we have a duty of care.
I hope the principle of confidentiality is accepted, regardless of my sources or of any personal opinions that might leak through.
Do we want transparency? Yes, transparency of rules. and Transparency of procedures.
But in no way should we get a public hearing of a grievance.
So what should we get?
Hopefully: Protection of the victim of harassment, protection of the victim of false accusations, protection of any witnesses, protection of third parties, and protection of staff involved in the grievance procedure.
Quoting post 1:
"no single person should engage in this sort of investigation without external validation from at least one other member of the team, and this self-check will ensure that this sort of thing will never happen again."
Fair point, but please add confidentiality.
Looking backwards again, perhaps unwisely:
The individuals mentioned in post 1 including staff members were not protected by what happened.
I cannot imagine what each of them has gone through.
It is wholly possible that all parties acted in their search for justice. At the very least we owe all parties the benefit of the doubt.
Do I want to skip the details? Yes please, my opinion on the merits is quite irrelevant.
My point is that it should not have been public.
I apologise if I have raked over the ashes. I sincerely hope it will not reignite the past, when the parties concerned will most likely want peace and closure.
Yes, it was a huge mistake, but it is time for learning and time for compassion, for all concerned.
To cite some wise words, again from post 1:
We must be better, and we will be. it is as simple as that.
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