AMS Harassment Policy

Approved by the Board of Directors 31 October 2018

Harassment, whether verbal or physical, consists of discriminatory behavior that may be based on, but is not exclusive to, the victim’s race, color, gender or gender expression, religion, nationality or national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, political beliefs or affiliation, physical ability or disability, chosen research or performance area, parental or caregiver status, or employment status. Harassment as referred to in this policy statement includes sexual harassment (as defined by applicable law). It may involve members of the AMS in their relationships not only with students and colleagues, but also with professional associates and support staff in all educational, research, and employment settings.

The AMS’s goal above all is to support vulnerable members of the community and to strategize to end harassment. Harassment of AMS employees, members, or volunteers and other individuals attending AMS-operated, sponsored and/or affiliated events is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Research suggests that harassment is less prevalent in social organizations that model positive and respectful behavior.


All registrants for AMS-sponsored meetings will in future be asked to indicate that they are aware of this policy as a part of the registration process (e.g., by means of a checkbox).

Each year, our Annual Meeting program book will include the AMS harassment policy statement and describe a procedure for reporting harassing behavior. 

Each year, the local arrangements committee will locate and communicate to the AMS Board the name and phone number of the local rape crisis center as well as the phone number for local police and the location of the nearest emergency room.


Sexual harassment has been defined generally as including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature whenever (1) toleration of the conduct is either an explicit or implicit term or condition of Society service, Annual Meeting activity, or employment; (2) an individual’s reaction to the conduct is used as a basis for Society service, Annual Meeting activity, or employment decisions affecting that individual; (3) the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual’s Society service, Annual Meeting activity, or work performance; or (4) the conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment regarding Society service, Annual Meeting activity, or at work.

No employee, member, volunteer, or attendee should be subjected to sexual harassment or unsolicited and unwelcome sexual overtures, nor should any employee, member, volunteer, or attendee be led to believe that any benefit will in any way depend upon “cooperation” of a sexual nature.

Sexual harassment is not limited to demands for sexual favors.  It also may include such actions as (1) sex-oriented verbal “kidding,” “teasing,” or jokes; (2) repeated offensive sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions; (3) continued or repeated verbal abuse of a sexual nature; (4) graphic or degrading comments about an individual or his or her appearance; (5) the display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; (6) subtle pressure for sexual activity; and (7) inappropriate physical contact.

Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature or consensual personal and social relationships without a discriminatory employment effect. Sexual harassment refers to behavior that is not welcome and that is personally intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

Harassment on other grounds, as listed above, is also prohibited. These other forms of harassment may likewise include such actions as: (1) jokes or verbal “kidding,” or “teasing”; (2) verbal abuse and epithets; (3) degrading comments; (4) the display of offensive objects and pictures; and (5) other conduct that the individual might reasonably find to be intimidating, hostile, offensive, coercive, or threatening.

It is expected that AMS members will engage thoughtfully and respectfully with one another.


Complaints about harassment (including bullying or any form of sexual harassment or assault) should be directed to the President or a member of the Board of Directors.

Anyone requested to stop harassing or perpetrating other inappropriate behavior is expected to comply immediately. In cases where an offender appears to present the risk of continuing harm at AMS meetings, expulsion from the meeting is a possible sanction. In cases where a person is proven to have committed an offense, AMS membership and honors granted by the AMS may be revoked.


As a voluntary professional organization with a small staff, the AMS is limited in its ability to respond formally to charges of sexual harassment. Nonetheless, within these constraints the AMS will follow its professional and ethical responsibility to respond to reports of sexual harassment among its membership.

The AMS cannot control the behavior of conference attendees and does not assume legal liability for harassment taking place at the Annual Meeting unless it involves direct, paid employees of the AMS. This statement is informational only and is not a contract, and does not create any legally enforceable protections or obligations on the part of the AMS. It is not intended to, nor should it be used to support a cause of action, create a presumption of a breach of legal duty, or form a basis for civil liability.

The wording of some segments of this document has been based on or adapted from policies of the American Historical Association, the Shakespeare Association of America, and The American Folklore Society, as well as WorkSafe New Zealand’s “Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying: Best Practices Guidelines” (2014).