WIT’s “No Retaliation” policy describes our organization’s provisions towards employees who speak out against instances of harm due to micro-aggressions and/or manifestations of systemic oppression. This policy ensures that staff members, independent contractors, volunteers and all other WIT stakeholders with oppressed identities feel safe and supported in helping WIT fulfill its commitment to being actively anti-oppressive. WIT stakeholders also include students, audience members, community partners, and donors. The language of this policy seeks to differentiate between the hurt feelings that are unavoidable when talking about issues of race, class, gender, ability, and sexual orientation, and the harm that is caused when oppressive dynamics are not actively challenged.
A manager, staff member, independent contractor, or board member may not fire, demote, harass, or otherwise “retaliate” against an individual for filing a complaint of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination. WIT considers micro-aggressions and actions that support, enable, or refuse to challenge oppression as discrimination.
This policy applies to all prospective, current, or former staff employees, independent contractors, board members, volunteers and other stakeholders of Washington Improv Theater.
Oppression is the systemic and pervasive nature of social inequality woven throughout social institutions and norms, as well as embedded within individual consciousness.
- Oppression can be carried out through institutional and systemic discrimination, personal bias, bigotry, and social prejudice; it is conducted through a complex web of relationships and structures that saturate most aspects of life in our society.
- Oppression denotes structural and material constraints that significantly shape a person’s life chances and sense of possibility.
- Oppression also signifies a hierarchical relationship in which dominant or privileged groups benefit, often in unconscious ways, from the disempowerment of subordinated or targeted groups.
White Supremacy is a historically based, institutionally supported, and individually perpetrated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, communities, and people of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent for the purpose of maintaining and defending systems of wealth, power, and privilege. White Supremacy is so infused in our cultures and scripts of interactions through the normalization of whiteness that it is often enacted by people unintentionally.
Why do we need a No Retaliation Policy?
In most workplaces, actions that often inspire retaliation include but are not limited to:
- Reporting racial, gender, class-based, or ability-based micro-aggressions
- Reporting sexual harassment or unwanted sexual advancements
- Having a human, agitated response to a pattern of micro-aggressions
- Participating in a pending investigation of misconduct or violations
- Filing a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal or termination for cause
As an organization, WIT believes that it is necessary to build a culture of actively contesting aspects of oppression. Building this culture starts with creating practices for staff members and WIT contractual employees (teachers, directors, and coaches, specifically) to support one another in seeing and naming how they manifest their socially dominant identities through behaviors, dynamics, and mental models that perpetuate the oppression of others.
This culture also depends on faithfully witnessing our staff members and other community stakeholders as they respond to micro-aggressions they experience based on their oppressed identities. WIT views faithful witnessing as supporting staff members and WIT stakeholders in their response and resistance to oppression and micro-aggressions, even if their responses make other members uncomfortable or result in hurt feelings. It means having emotional and intellectual empathy into the social position of the staff member as well as social context in which the reaction is taking place. WIT supports any such action in response to micro-aggressions that does not threaten, endanger, harm, or discriminate against staff members, and/or does not unduly hamper the organization’s work toward its mission. Thus, WIT will not retaliate against, nor allow any member of its staff or work force to retaliate against employees or other community stakeholders for responding to or addressing micro-aggressions and/or oppression in any form.
What is retaliation?
Retaliation is in general defined as any kind of negative action against a current or former staff, independent contractor, volunteer or stakeholder that takes the form of punishment, and creates a hostile, threatening, or uncomfortable environment as a result of their reported complaint.
Retaliation in the workplace may be expressed in a variety of ways. These include but are not limited to:
- Termination or illegal retraction of benefits
- Reduction of compensation and/or failure to promote or increase salary
- Changing of work duties or responsibilities
- Increased scrutiny
- Poor work performance evaluation
- Exclusion from corporate events or meetings
- Victimization: Singling someone out for cruel or unjust treatment.
- Defamation of character: Writing or saying false statements about an individual with the intent of harming or slandering their reputation.
All of these forms of retaliation are not acceptable at WIT.
Employees have the right to communicate problems, suggestions or issues to any stuff member or director on WIT’s Board of Directors. WIT’s “no retaliation” policy applies to all official or unofficial reports. All complaints will be kept confidential and investigation will be as non-disruptive as possible. In cases of lawsuits or complaints filed in an authority or legal entity, employees will not be subjected to retaliation.
If a WIT stakeholder files a complaint with WIT for another stakeholder, the institution will take it seriously and investigate thoroughly. If WIT needs to act immediately during an investigation (like in cases of harassment), the institution will ensure the individual who filed the complaint will not be negatively affected in any way. The alleged wrongdoer may see their employment or position affected during the investigation, or when the investigation is concluded. In event of cross-complaints, mediation is necessary and both parties’ workload, position, and responsibilities may have to shift during the course of mediation.
In some cases, a staff member, independent contractor, volunteer or stakeholder who has filed a report may face disciplinary action on an unrelated offense. WIT will provide official documentation stating the reason for disciplinary procedures against the employee, along with evidence for their misconduct.