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Immigration and Ethnic History Association Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct


The Immigration and Ethnic History Society (IEHS) works to maintain an environment that allows persons in the historical profession to flourish by encouraging respectful, inclusive, and equitable treatment of all who participate in IEHS activities. As a statement of principle, the IEHS rejects harassment, discrimination, and retaliation by any means, based on sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Sexual harassment creates a hostile environment that impedes the advancement of historical knowledge by marginalizing individuals and communities. It also damages productivity and career growth, and prevents the healthy exchange of ideas. We affirm that discrimination and harassment are unacceptable in any research or learning environment. The IEHS is committed to providing a safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all participants of IEHS events and programs.

The policy applies to all members and participants, including employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers, and guests. The following policy encompasses interactions in person, by telephone, and by electronic communication.

Expected Behavior

All participants, attendees, volunteers, and vendors involved in IEHS activities will be treated with respect and consideration. The IEHS values a diversity of views and opinions and adheres to the standards of professional conduct enumerated by the American Historical Association and Code of Professional Conduct at Officially Sanctioned AHA Activities.

Unacceptable Behavior

The IEHS has a no-tolerance stance for sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination that consists of a single intense and severe act, or of multiple persistent or pervasive acts, which are unwanted, unwelcome, demeaning, abusive, or offensive. As defined by the 2018 National Academies of Sciences, sexual harassment is composed of three categories of behavior:

1) Gender harassment: verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey hostility, objectification, exclusion, or second-class status about members based on gender. Harassing behavior can be either direct (targeted at an individual) or ambient (a general level of sexual harassment in an environment);

2) Unwanted sexual attention: unwelcome verbal or physical sexual advances; and

3) Sexual coercion: when professional or educational treatment is conditioned on sexual activity or interactions, particularly when there are disparities in professional status and power.

Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature or consensual personal and social relationships without discriminatory effects. It refers to behavior that reasonably situated persons would regard as not welcome and as personally intimidating, coercive, hostile, or offensive. According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, the victim of harassment can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct, not just the individual at whom the conduct is directed.

The IEHS has no tolerance for other forms of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is a broad term encompassing any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation. Sexual misconduct can be committed by a person of any gender, and it can occur between people of similar or different genders. Sexual misconduct includes but is not limited to: sexual assault; sexual exploitation (taking nonconsensual, unjust, coercive, or abusive activity against their will); and sexual intimidation (threatening another person that you will commit a sex act against them or engaging in indecent exposure).

Retaliation against a complainant of sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct is also a violation of these policies.

IEHS members and other conference attendees should be aware that their home institution’s policies (such as Title IX) may require them to report allegations of sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct involving people affiliated with their institution.

This policy will be clearly and prominently displayed on the IEHS website. All participants in IEHS activities and anyone obtaining or renewing an IEHS membership will be required to formally acknowledge the policy as well as their responsibility to abide by it through their membership profiles, submission of potential conference presentations, and in the registration process for IEHS programs and events.


If you experience unacceptable behavior, as described above, during an IEHS event or program, please report the situation to the IEHS president or a member of the Professional Environment Committee.

If you witness potential harm to a conference participant, we encourage you to be proactive in helping to mitigate or avoid that harm. Alert hotel security personnel or law enforcement if you see a situation in which someone might be in imminent physical danger.

Upon receipt of a report, the IEHS president or a Professional Environment Committee member will notify the individual about whom the report was filed and they will be asked to desist from the offensive behavior. Anyone requested to stop unacceptable behavior as defined above is expected to comply immediately and, if they do not do so, they may be asked to remove themselves from the event. The IEHS president, members of the Professional Environment Committee or hotel (and/or convention center) security may take any action deemed necessary and appropriate, including immediate removal from the meeting without warning or refund.

Making a Complaint

The IEHS will designate a Professional Environment Committee that will be available to receive complaints from, describe reporting procedures to, provide advice on resources to, and discuss issues with participants in any IEHS-sanctioned activity who have experienced or witnessed violations of this policy. To avoid potential conflicts of interest, the IEHS president or Professional Environment Committee member receiving complaints and providing advice will not carry out warning or enforcement measures. The committee’s contact information will be made available on the IEHS website and in annual meeting registration materials. Neither the committee nor any other IEHS official can provide legal advice to those who make reports under this policy.

The IEHS will review each report and endeavor to respond proportionally and fairly. Responses may range from informal resolutions agreed to by the parties to investigations conducted by trained external investigators. In cases of noncompliance with this policy, or repeated violations, IEHS reserves the right to prohibit attendance at any future events, participation in programs, committee appointments, or receipt of awards.

Tracking of Allegations and Decisions

The IEHS will record allegations and decisions in a secure IEHS database with access limited to the use of the IEHS Professional Environment Committee and the IEHS President and Vice President. The record will include the allegations and relevant reports and decisions. Reports will be maintained for up to ten years in a secure database, to help address the issue of repeat offenders. The Professional Environment Committee will compile a confidential summary report of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct cases and their disposition will be made available to the IEHS Executive Council and membership annually. IEHS members will receive an annual report documenting the numbers of complaints received and their outcomes.


Reproduced with permission from The Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2019) by the National Academies of Sciences, Courtesy of the National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.


Consent: Consent is a freely and affirmatively communicated willingness to participate in a particular sexual activity or behavior, expressed either by words or clear, unambiguous actions. Consent can be withdrawn at any time, and by definition, a person is incapable of consent if the person is unable to understand the facts, nature, extent, or implications of the situation and/or if the person is incapacitated. Critically, the person initiating a particular sexual activity or behavior bears the responsibility of receiving consent.

Discriminatory behavior: An umbrella term that includes biased treatment based upon characteristics such as race, color, ethnicity, age, sex, age, disability status, pregnancy status, national origin, and veteran status, among others. The term includes the different forms of sexual harassment, as well as other forms of sex/gender discrimination.

Gender harassment: Verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey hostility, exclusion, or second-class status about members of one gender. Examples include use of language and comments that denigrate a group or individuals in gendered terms. This type of harassment is sometimes further broken down into sexist hostility and crude harassment.

Unwanted sexual attention: Unwelcome sexual advances, which can include repeated requests for dates and persistent attempts to establish sexual relationships despite rejection.

Ambient harassment: General level of sexual harassment in a particular setting as defined by the frequency of harassing behaviors of all types and levels of severity. In this type of harassment the people negatively affected are not directly targeted.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment: A legal term that parallels sexual coercion. It is a type of sexual harassment in which professional or educational treatment is conditioned on sexual activity. Examples include promises of a positive evaluation, better grades, access to resources, or a letter of reference in exchange for sexual favors.