The Society of Rheology Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy

Code of Conduct

It is the policy of The Society of Rheology (SoR) that all participants at the SoR annual meeting and other SOR associated activities will conduct themselves in a professional manner that is welcoming to all participants and free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. This policy applies to all participants including attendees, guests, contractors, vendors, volunteers, and all other stakeholders. Participants will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment. All SoR meeting or event participants share responsibility for creating a supportive environment to enable scientific discourse.

Accordingly, all participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics including but not limited to age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status or educational background.

All participants will show respect for one another, regardless of discipline, employment or educational status, and organizations for which they work, whether industry, academia, or government. All participants should strive to treat each other as equals having a valuable contribution to the Society.

All participants in SoR meetings are free to express their scientific views, while also recognizing that such views should be expressed collegially and respectfully in the spirit of advancing knowledge and understanding.

Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, dismissive or insulting modes of address, unwanted touching or sexual attention, offensive images, coercion and stalking. Harassment does not require an intent to cause injury or be offensive. When unwelcome by the recipient, actions intended as a joke or even as a compliment can contribute to harassing behavior. Harassment is not only damaging to individuals, but also to the Society as a whole by discouraging participation in the Society and hampering our mission to expand the knowledge and practice of rheology around the world.

Reporting Violations

Violations of this policy should be reported to any member of the SoR executive committee or other designees appointed by the executive committee, or through the web portal. Additional information about reporting methods will be provided for each SoR meeting and on the website. When reporting you will be asked to provide details about the incident, names of individuals involved, and names of any witnesses.

The Society of Rheology is committed to maintaining the anonymity of all involved persons including complainants and witnesses except where doing so would compromise another person’s rights or the SoR’s ability to investigate and respond to violations. In such cases, the SoR will only disclose information necessary to investigate the allegations. Complaints may be made anonymously, but sufficient detail is required to proceed with an investigation or act on a complaint.

It is a violation of this policy to intimidate, retaliate against, or threaten individuals who report harassment or provide any information about possible violations of this policy. Any retaliatory actions or threats should be reported and will be investigated.

Investigative Procedures

The SoR executive committee shall appoint a code of conduct violation and harassment response team (hereafter refered to as response team) that can provide a rapid initial evaluation of all complaints during SoR meetings and activities. The team shall be composed of the past president (chair), the vice president, a delegate from the general membership, and any other appointees as voted by the executive committee. If any member of the response team is implicated in a complaint or has a conflict of interest, they will recuse themselves and a replacement will be appointed by the president or, if the president is also implicated, by a vote of the remaining executive committee.

The response team will receive all reports of code of conduct violations, provide an initial evaluation, and determine a path forward during SoR events. The team will determine (1) if the alleged behavior potentially violates the code of conduct policy, (2) if there is sufficient information to proceed with an investigation, (3) if the situation may be resolved through an informal process, or (4) if a formal investigation is warranted. The executive committee shall retain records of all complaints for a minimum of 5 years and the response team shall check to see if individuals involved in complaints have a history of being reported for code of conduct violations when determining whether to pursue further investigation.

In the event that further investigation is warranted, the response team, in consultation with the president, will appoint an investigator (individual or committee) to investigate the incident, and an advocate for the complainant. The investigator and advocate can be selected from the executive committee, the American Institute of Physics, the Society at large, a third-party consultant, or a combination thereof. If the reported incident involves any criminal behavior the police will be called if required by law.

The purpose of the SoR investigator is to uncover the facts, evaluate them in an unbiased way, and reach conclusions as to the events that took place. The investigator should interview the complainant, the accused, and any witnesses provided by either party. A report including the facts and conclusions should be written and provided to the executive committee.

The purpose of the advocate is to ensure that the complainant feels safe attending the meeting or event while the complaint is investigated. Depending on the nature of the complaint it may be necessary to keep the complainant and accused separated during the investigation. Every effort will be made to ensure that the complainant can continue to fully participate in the meeting or event during the investigation.

Upon completion of the investigation the full executive committee (excluding individuals who may have been implicated in the complaint) shall meet to discuss the report findings and the committee will determine whether the Society code of conduct and anti-harassment policy has been violated. If the committee finds that this policy has not been violated, both the complainant and the accused will be informed of the result. If the committee finds that this policy has been violated, they shall determine what disciplinary measures are warranted for the incident and inform the offender. The complainant shall be informed of the finding that the policy was violated, and it shall be determined by the committee whether any additional information about disciplinary measures can be shared.

Disciplinary Measures

Disciplinary measures may include verbal or written warnings, required training (code of conduct, harassment, civility and/or professionalism training, for example), ejection from the meeting without refund, a ban from attending one or more future meetings, suspension of membership for one or more years, or reporting to the accused’s employer.

The Society of Rheology holds its executive committee members, standing committee chairs, fellows and award winners to the highest standards. As such a code of conduct violation may result in removal from the executive committee or other named positions, ineligibility for the executive committee or other society roles, temporary or permanent revocation of awards and fellowship, or temporary or permanent ineligibility for award and fellowship nomination.

The accused has a right to appeal. Grounds for appeal include (1) a conflict of interest or bias that affected the outcome of the case, (2) any sanctions imposed were not appropriate for the violation(s), and (3) new information that was not available at the time of the decision. Barring unusual circumstances, an appeal must be submitted within 30 days of notification.

The SoR understands that we are all human and we all make mistakes. The harassment policy is not meant to be punitive, but to provide a holistic framework to ensure that all society stakeholders are treated respectfully and professionally by one another. Sanctions shall be applied proportionally to the nature of the violation, with a goal of education to prevent future violations, and towards ensuring that the SoR remains a welcoming environment for everyone.

Adopted by the SoR Executive Committee, 28 April 2019. Updated 15 October 2023.