ANTI-BULLYING POLICY

Adopted February 13, 2016

SUMMARY

Bullying is not tolerated in Philly Socialists, and is a behavior that is a serious threat to democracy. Those who bully other Philly Socialists members or participants, and do not cease the behavior once asked, may be temporarily or permanently expelled from the organization.

PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to protect the members of Philly Socialists from intimidation, harassment, trolling, threats, aggression and physical harm.

The intent of this policy is to create an environment where all Philly Socialists members and participants can express opinions, make decisions, and do work in the organization without fear of malicious treatment.

Moreover, this policy protects Philly Socialists as an organization where collective and individual actions are made through a democratic decision-making process based on our shared values, not through coercion.

PRECEDENTS

The Constitution currently reads, under section J (“Sanctions and Appeals”), subsection 3 (“Sanctions against individuals function in the following ways”):

  • “3. Expulsion - Expulsion means the person is kicked out of the organization. Expulsions can only be decided by the General Assembly. This is only done if someone has undertaken a serious breach of the organization’s values. Serious breach of organizational values includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    • Taking bribes or corruption.
    • Financial chicanery for personal gain.
    • Engaging in espionage against the group.
    • Practicing harassment or bullying based on, though not limited to, gender, sexual orientation, race, or religious affiliation.
    • Undermining in a serious way the trust of the masses in the organization.”

DEFINITIONS & EXAMPLES

Bullying is generally defined as systematic, annoying, and continued actions which include threats and demands; creating a hostile situation by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct; in order to intimidate someone and establish dominance.

There are three types of bullying: verbal, social, and physical.

Verbal bullying includes (but is not limited to):

  • abusive teasing
  • verbal intimidation
  • trolling: unwarranted, excessive, and hostile private communication in person or via electronic communications
  • threatening, and yelling at comrades in meetings or outside of them
  • consistent ignoring or interrupting of a comrade who is trying to speak
  • personal attacks, such as: put-downs, inappropriate references to individual's personal background, insulting an individual's intelligence, or ad hominem criticisms which attack the person rather than engage with an argument, etc.

Social bullying includes (but is not limited to):

  • spreading lies and/or malicious remors about other members
  • work interference (sabotage) which prevents work from getting done
  • intentional public humiliation
  • stalking

Physical bullying includes (but is not limited to):

  • intentionally causing any physical harm
  • threatening to cause physical harm
  • spitting
  • damaging someone’s personal property
  • invasion of someone’s personal space

In addition to these examples, bullying is also considered conduct that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to the organization's legitimate activities.

Bullying should not be taken to mean:

  1. Publicly or privately expressing disagreement or dissatisfaction with the organization, organizational direction, membership, or leadership. Examples might include: Complaining about something related to the group with other members or individuals outside the group, criticizing the leadership in public forums at a group meeting or over social media or email, venting to friends about an individual one disagrees with, recommending a change of policy to address perceived organizational problems real or perceived, etc.
  2. Publicly or privately advocating for or expressing disagreement with any given political line, tactic, policy, or strategy. Examples might include: Criticizing decisions taken by the group at a meeting or on social media, advocating for and attempting to persuade others to adopt a policy or strategy even if it is unpopular, speaking out and/or voting for or against a policy, etc.

However, private expressions of any of the above toward individuals may constitute bullying when the individual in question feels the expressions are unwelcome, hostile, and/or excessive. If any individual feels they are being contacted in a repeated, hectoring, or intimidating manner, they are strongly encouraged to initiate a rectification process in the manner outlined in the "Procedures" section.

STATISTICS

  • 27% of American adults have experienced workplace bullying.
  • 60% of workplace bullying targets in the U.S. are women.
  • 33% of Hispanic individuals, 33% of Black individuals, and 33% of Asian individuals in the U.S. have been bullied in the workplace, compared to 24% of White individuals.

(Source: Workplace Bullying Institute, 2014)

SCOPE

This policy applies to all Philly Socialists members and anyone attending Philly Socialists’ events, including non­members.

PROCEDURE

Individuals who feel bullied can put forward a formal request to tell the individual to stop correspondence with them via email or in person, or request an intervention by the Arbiter.

Ideally, this request should be given via email, text, or Facebook since it leaves an electronic trail. The language could be along the lines of "I am requesting you no longer speak to me privately outside of meetings, and I will not reply to further correspondence."

If the bully continues to pester the target they should notify the Arbiter(s) of their choice.

The Arbiter(s) will offer the bully anti-bullying materials and training opportunities.

Together, the Arbiter(s) and target of the bullying will determine subsequent actions, based on the severity of the issue and the wishes of the target.

Potential actions include:

  • Giving the bully a warning and notification that continued inappropriate behavior will result in expulsion from the group
  • Temporary or permanent ban from Philly Socialists Facebook discussion group and listserves
  • Temporary ban from Philly Socialists meetings and events
  • The bully being thenceforth not invited or welcomed to future events, meeting, and gatherings (but not explicitly warned about their behavior)
  • Expelling the bully from Philly Socialists.

At the target’s request, the Arbiter(s) will take all steps necessary to protect the identity of the target as much as possible.

The Arbiter will let the Central Committee and Branch leaders know that there was an accusation against the bully and the course of action that the target decided upon.

The Central Committee may issue a public announcement disassociating the organization with the bully, and explaining why; this would both warn other activists as well as inform members and non­members that this individual is a bully.

The Arbiters will also strive to provide trainings on bullying behavior, empathy, etc. for the membership at large.