Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure

Board Policy (Inactive/Replaced)

See Professional Conduct Procedures for current version.

Approved by the AAR Board of Directors in September 2015

At its November 1996 meeting the AAR Board of Directors adopted a policy condemning sexual harassment in academic settings. At its April 1998 meeting the Board approved a Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure.

The AAR's Status of Women in the Profession Committee formulated the procedure. In announcing the procedure for the membership, Emilie Townes, chair of the Committee, said "The Sexual Harassment Policy of the American Academy of Religion is designed to foster and maintain an environment of rigorous scholarship and professional excellence. Such an environment cannot be achieved when sexual harassment is present. The Policy is a clear and unambiguous statement against sexual harassment and it also provides resources for understanding and combating unprofessional and dehumanizing conduct. The Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure provides an equitable mechanism to implement the sexual harassment policy of AAR. The Procedure seeks to provide confidentiality and a fair procedure for all parties involved. It, along with the Sexual Harassment Policy, provides the membership of AAR with a clear statement concerning sexual harassment, resources that are educational in helping combat it, and a procedure for the Academy to address any cases that may arise from official activities of AAR. Together, the Policy and Grievance Procedure, help AAR create and maintain the highest standards of professional conduct and academic freedom in our mutual pursuit of excellence in scholarship."


The Grievance Committee has primary responsibility for interpretation of the AAR Sexual Harassment Policy, for the evaluation of complaints brought under it, and for recommendations to the Board of Directors pertinent to such complaints. The Grievance Committee will review those cases arising out of formally constituted activities of the AAR and for which it is the most appropriate forum, if it considers the matter important to the profession, and if it deems the AAR's resources to be adequate to yield a fair judgment. The Grievance Committee will not accept complaints it deems capricious or principally vindictive, and, except in unusual circumstances, it will not pursue a case while the dispute is pending in another forum. Review of a complaint by the Grievance Committee should not be regarded as substitute for legal action.

Composition of the Grievance Committee

The Grievance Committee should have direct lines of accountability to the AAR Board of Directors and the membership. It should be representative of the diversity of the member of AAR and avoid unnecessary bureaucratization.

  • President
  • President Elect
  • Vice President
  • SWP Chair
  • Secretary or Student Director in cases that involve a student

The Executive Director serves as the investigating officer.

Except for providing all facts pertinent to the investigation of the allegations of a complaint, no person who has been accused in the complaint will participate in the investigation or evaluation of the complaint.

  • If any member of the Grievance Committee is named in the complaint, he or she is replaced by an appointment from the President. If the President is named in the complaint, the President Elect appoints a replacement for the President.
  • If someone comes forward with a complaint against the Executive Director, that complaint should be directed to the AAR President who will replace the Executive Director in her/his role as investigator and/or member of the Grievance Committee.

Complaint Procedure

  • The complainant/victim should present the complaint as promptly as possible with the Executive Director after the alleged harassment occurs. Failure to present a complaint promptly may preclude recourse to legal procedures beyond the jurisdiction of the AAR should the complainant decide to pursue such action at a later date. Any employee or member, including any supervisor or manager, who believes any employee or member has been subjected to sexual harassment, or who receives a complaint from an employee or member alleging such harassment, must present the complaint as promptly as possible with the Executive Director after the alleged harassment occurs, even when the employee or member complaining asks the employee or manager to keep the allegation confidential and take no action. Every complaint of harassment will be investigated promptly, thoroughly, and in an impartial manner.
    • The initial discussion between the complainant and the Executive Director should be kept confidential to the extent possible.
    • The Executive Director will gather all facts pertinent to the allegations of the complaint.
      • The investigation will be conducted promptly and objectively.
      • The investigation will include statements by the complainant(s)/victim(s), person(s) accused, and others as necessary, along with any other documentation relevant to the allegations of the complaint.
      • When necessary, the Executive Director may take immediate measures before completion of the investigation to ensure that further harassment does not occur while the investigation is being conducted
      • Efforts should be made to protect the complainant/victim from retaliatory action by the person(s) named in the complaint.
  • The Executive Director alerts the Grievance Committee that a complaint has been filed and promptly calls a meeting of the Committee. Each member of the Committee shall receive a copy of any statements/documents prepared or obtained by the Executive Director through his/her investigation.
  • The Grievance Committee has the following options:
    • If the Committee concludes that on the basis of the investigation insufficient evidence of harassment exists to warrant any action, may close the investigation and so notify the complainant and alleged offender in writing.
    • If the Committee concludes on the basis of the investigation that sexual harassment has occurred the following disciplinary actions may be taken to stop the harassment, correct its effects on the victim, and ensure that the harassment does not recur:
      • Letter of reprimand to the offender.
      • Training and education regarding sexual harassment and appropriate and inappropriate behaviors with documentation to the Committee that this training has been completed. Failure to comply may result in the rescinding of membership.
      • Termination and/or rescinding of membership in the AAR for a duration deemed appropriate by the committee.
  • Every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality throughout the process, but total confidentiality cannot be guaranteed because an effective investigation cannot be conducted without revealing certain information to the alleged wrongdoer(s) and potential witnesses.  However, to the extent possible, information about the allegations will be shared by the Executive Director and the Grievance Committee only with those who need to know about it, and the Executive Director and the Grievance Committee will protect the privacy of both the complainant and persons accused in every way possible, including keeping records relating to such complaints confidential, during the process of the complaint and thereafter.
  • The AAR will not tolerate retaliation, coercion, intimidation, interference, discrimination, or harassment of or against any member or employee of AAR for making a good-faith complaint of harassment or for providing information related to such a complaint. Any retaliatory action of any kind taken against a complainant under this procedure is prohibited and will be the basis for a separate complaint subject to disciplinary action by the Grievance Committee.
  • If, after investigating a complaint the Grievance Committee determines that a complainant knowingly made a false complaint or knowingly provided false information regarding a complaint, the Committee may decide that disciplinary actions, as above, are warranted. 
  • The decision of the Grievance Committee is final.


(Board policy, April 1998; Amended by the AAR Board of Directors, September 2015; Replaced by the Professional Conduct Procedures, January 2020)