Policy on Sexual Misconduct
Our policy is adapted from Yoga Alliance standards:
(Last Modified: March 4, 2019)
Our policy is adapted from Yoga Alliance standards: (Last Modified: March 4, 2019)
Firelight Yoga believes that every human being has the right to practice yoga free from abuse. Such acts are unethical and will not be tolerated. Further, any retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual misconduct, or retaliation against individuals for cooperating with an Investigation of any complaint of sexual misconduct, will not be tolerated. To achieve our goal of providing safe environments, the conduct that is described in the definitions of this Policy will not be tolerated. We also have a procedure to address any reported violations of this Policy.
Please note: as Firelight Yoga does not have the same authority or resources to investigate or stop criminal activity as law enforcement bodies, we strongly encourage individuals to use the criminal, legal, judicial and social support systems available in your jurisdiction. Reporting criminal activity can be a strong deterrent and hold people accountable.
Sexual Misconduct: Unwelcomed conduct of a sexual nature, whether physical or verbal in nature.
- Non-consensual sexual touching: A broad term that refers to any deliberate non-consensual touching of a person’s body, which conduct can range from unwanted touching such as fondling, up to and including non-consensual sex.
- Verbal: Use of sexually suggestive or explicit statements, whether through speech or written form, that create a hostile environment.
While it is not possible to list all the circumstances that may constitute sexual misconduct, the following are some examples of conduct which, if unwelcome, may constitute sexual misconduct:
- Unwelcome sexual advances — whether they involve physical touching or not;
- Sexual epithets, jokes, written or verbal references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life, comment on an individual’s body, comment about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess;
- Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons;
- Unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or insulting comments;
- Comments or conjecture about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Inquiries into one’s sexual experiences; and,
- Discussion of one’s sexual activities.
Retaliation: An adverse action taken against a Complainant or Witness in response to their submission of a complaint and/or participation in an Investigation. Examples of adverse action include withholding a certificate of completion; firing or refusing to hire an individual; or expelling a trainee or student.
Grievance: Any allegation of a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Complainant: A person who reports a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Respondent: A person who is alleged to have violated the Policy, and who is responding to a Grievance.
Party: The Complainant or Respondent. Collectively, they may be referred to as the “Parties.”
Witness: A person whom the Complainant or Respondent identifies as having first-hand, relevant information about the alleged violation or lack of violation.
Preliminary Review: Firelight Yoga Co-Owners’ initial review following receipt of a complaint to determine whether to initiate an Investigation.
Notification of Disciplinary Proceeding: The written Notification to the Respondent informing them of the initiation of an Investigation.
Investigation: The fact-finding process conducted by Firelight Yoga Co-Owners that determines whether there is sufficient, timely information to determine whether there has been a Policy violation.
Notification of Decision: The written communication from Firelight Yoga Co-Owners that notifies the parties about the findings of the Investigation. In the event of an adverse finding, the Notification will also inform the Respondent of any disciplinary actions.
Appeal: Either Party’s right to contest the findings of the Investigation, but only on the following bases: (a) significant procedural lapses or (b) the appearance of substantive new evidence not available at the time of the original decision.
I. Application of this Policy
- This Policy applies to Firelight Yoga employees, independently-contracted regular and substitute instructors, clients of the studio, and any teacher trainees at the time of the incident that gives rise to the Grievance.
- Any Grievance must be reported to Firelight Yoga Co-Owners within two years of its occurrence, however, Firelight Yoga encourages immediate report of any Grievance whenever possible.
II. Reporting a Grievance
Reports must be initiated by the individual who has personally experienced sexual misconduct as defined in the Policy. If said individual is a minor at the time of the report, the individual’s parent or legal guardian, should one have been appointed, can report the misconduct on their ward’s behalf.
In the interest of the safety and privacy, Firelight Yoga will not initiate an Investigation based upon a third-Party report of a Policy violation.
To report a violation of the Policy, please send the following information to Firelight Yoga Co-Owners, Holly Bussmus and Jessica Bartley, at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com:
- Your full name;
- Your email and phone number, including any international extensions;
- Full name of the Respondent;
- A full description of the conduct alleged to have violated the Policy;
- The date and location of the alleged misconduct;
- Names and contact information of Witnesses; and,
- If necessary, a request for an exception to the two-year time limit for reporting a Grievance.
We may request additional information from you during the course of review or Investigation of any Grievance.
To ensure a fair process to all those involved, we will not investigate anonymous reports.
III. Preliminary Review
Firelight Yoga Co-Owners will review reported Grievances to determine whether (i) the Policy applies to the subject of the complaint; (ii) the Grievance is timely; and (ii) the alleged conduct is covered by the Policy. If the complaint does not include all the information required by Section III, the Accountability Department shall inform the Complainant, who will then be given the opportunity to provide the required information. If no response is received within 21 days, the matter will be closed.
IV. Activating an Investigation
There are two ways to activate an Investigation:
- After Preliminary Review of a Grievance, Firelight Yoga Co-Owners determine that there is sufficient information to proceed with an Investigation.
- Firelight Yoga Co-Owners may initiate an Investigation on its own behalf, for example when an indictment has been issued or charges filed with the relevant law enforcement.
Once an Investigation is activated, Firelight Yoga Co-Owners will provide the Respondent with written (email) Notification of Disciplinary Proceeding. In the event that a Respondent does not have an email address on file, Firelight Yoga Co-Owners will call the Respondent to notify them of the Disciplinary Proceeding.
We appreciate that participating in an Investigation – whether as a Complainant, Respondent, or Witness – can be difficult. Although Firelight Yoga strives to balance the desire for confidentiality with the need to conduct a thorough and fair Investigation, anonymity cannot be maintained; therefore, the Parties’ names will be disclosed to each other during the Investigation.
VI. The Investigation
Once the Complainant and Respondent are contacted by Firelight Yoga Co-Owners to request an interview, they will have 21 days to participate in an interview, and/or to provide information in writing.
The Complainant and Respondent will have an equal opportunity to be heard, to submit information, and to identify Witnesses who may have relevant information. Firelight Yoga Co-Owners will notify and seek to interview all involved parties separately (e.g., the Complainant, the Respondent, and identified Witnesses) and will gather other evidence and information relevant to the determination as to whether a Policy violation has occurred. Witnesses must have information deemed relevant to the Investigation, as determined by Firelight Yoga Co-Owners, and cannot be participating solely to speak about an individual’s character.
Firelight Yoga Co-Owners will consider the totality of information gathered in the Investigation to determine, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) whether the Respondent violated the Policy. In reaching a Finding, Firelight Yoga Co-Owners will consider things such as:
- Party participation;
- Detail provided;
- Timeliness of the report;
- Corroborating or conflicting information;
- Plausibility of information provided;
- Relevancy of information;
- Omission of information.
VIII. Notification of Decision
At the conclusion of the Investigation, Firelight Yoga Co-Owners will notify the Parties as to whether there is sufficient information to establish a violation of the Policy. In addition, if a Respondent is found to have violated the Policy, they will be notified by the Notification of Adverse Decision.
If we determine that a Respondent has violated the Policy, we will take such action as is appropriate under the circumstances. Such action may range from education to revocation of employment, client’s membership and ability to practice, or trainees participation in a teacher training as applicable.
Both parties have the right to request an Appeal of the results of the Disciplinary Proceeding. The right to Appeal is limited to (a) significant procedural lapses or (b) the appearance of substantive new evidence not available at the time of the original decision. Appeals shall not be based upon, or granted to, dissatisfaction with a Finding or discipline. Note: deliberate omission of information by the Appealing Party in the original Investigation is not grounds for Appeal.
Each Party has 21 days following the receipt of the Notification of Finding to request an Appeal. Requests for Appeal, with reasons, should be emailed to Firelight Yoga Co-Owners, Holly Bussmus and Jessica Bartley, at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. If this is not possible, the Party requesting an Appeal must speak directly with one or both of the Co-Owners.
Appeals may be granted only in cases where the procedural problems or new evidence are considered substantive enough to potentially affect the outcome. If the Appeal is granted the Co-Owners of Firelight Yoga will (i) affirm the findings, or (ii) alter the findings only where there is clear error based on the stated Appeal grounds. Appeal decisions are final and will be issued within 21 days to the Party requesting the Appeal. If the finding is altered, both parties will be notified of the final outcome.
Firelight Yoga reserves the right to amend the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures at any time by posting the revised version on its website and notifying employees, independently-contracted regular and substitute instructors, and any current trainees of teacher training programs via electronic mail to the address provided. The most current version of the policy will apply upon receipt of a grievance.