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Conflict Resolution and Grievance Process

Please note: Sunrise is in the midst of developing more holistic policies to ensure thorough complaint evaluations for our everyday members and volunteers in hubs, support teams, and other spaces outside formal employment. While these policies are being created, the following document will be used as a stop-gap measure to support our members to file complaints that need a higher level of support than their hub, team, etc. is able to provide. Throughout this document, references to “Sunrise Movement” and/or “Sunrise” refer to both Sunrise and Sunrise Movement Education Fund. 1)

Our size and culture provides the opportunity to create an open environment. By keeping the lines of communication open, we feel that we will all benefit from day-to-day relations that are friendly and respectful. To ensure that lines of communication remain open, you are encouraged to raise concerns and issues with the appropriate parties. If this approach does not address your conflict adequately, you may request to schedule a meeting with a Sunrise movement leader. See directory at bottom for list of potential Sunrise movement leader prepared to support with grievances.

All movement members are expected to treat each other with respect and conduct themselves professionally when discussing concerns or issues. Communications should focus on facts and resolving the problem.


We recognize that we are all continuing to learn and grow in our work and in our individual and group actions. Sunrise Movement also recognizes that people working in close contact with each other will have misunderstandings, disagreements, and complaints from time to time. Even minor problems can develop into major problems if they are allowed to go unresolved or if they are not resolved in a satisfactory manner. We also recognize that we bring components of the larger society with us and we may not always recognize that we are acting in ways that may be offensive to other movement members. Participating in the movement requires that we all participate in conflict resolution and/or problem solving when we have, perhaps inadvertently, participated in some offensive action or have been involved in conflict. We aspire to have the majority of personal grievances in the movement be resolved by the parties involved through open and honest communication.

The following is suggested as an outline for handling such discussions sensitively. If it is deemed that additional facilitation or witness is necessary, please consult with a trusted movement leader to identify who the appropriate third party would be.

  1. Schedule discussion at a time that is mutually convenient for all parties involved. This will ensure that there is sufficient time for focused and thorough discussion.
  2. State the issue at hand before beginning the discussion.
  3. Each party should state, without rationalization or justification, the results they desire from the discussion.
  4. Each party should state briefly their perception of the issue(s) at hand and possible solutions.
  5. All parties should then work together to reach all goals (or reasonable compromises) set forth in step 3. During this step:
    1. Never interrupt someone while they are speaking.
    2. Keep your points brief.
    3. Use the goals set forth earlier as starting points for discussion.
    4. Don't focus on rehashing problem or its causes unnecessarily. Keep the discussion solutions-oriented.
    5. Lean on the Sunrise principles to help yourself and each other keep your eyes on the prize.

The intent of this procedure is to establish and maintain open lines of communication. While this process certainly guarantees no particular result, it does present opportunities to explore a problem from all points of view in an open and productive manner.

If after making a good faith effort, members are not able to resolve conflicts themselves, they should then seek the assistance of a trusted leader in their hub, program, or from the list of movement leaders at the bottom of this document.

Mediation

If a Sunrise movement member is causing harm, harassment or disruption to other members of the movement, they may be asked to participate in a mediation process or may be asked to leave the movement. If the member refuses to participate in mediation, they may be asked to leave the movement.


Sunrise Movement has established the following grievance procedure to allow members to address issues that are not resolved after a good-faith effort at the Conflict Resolution process above OR for issues that are related to policies or procedures that have not been resolved through direct request.

The following steps are to be followed for the review of any grievances:

  1. An effort shall be made to resolve the grievance informally with the aggrieved person, per a “good faith” effort at the conflict resolution process above. This includes bringing in a movement leader such as a hub coordinator, hub coach, manager, or other trusted leader to help navigate the situation.
  2. If the grievance cannot be solved at that level, you may submit the grievance in writing via email to Sunrise’s Team Support and Culture Director. You must specify that what is submitted is a grievance. There is a list of Sunrise directors at the bottom of this document if you would like to submit a grievance to a different Sunrise leader. If you self-select a different leader, that leader has the option to pass on these responsibilities to another team member if they are offline or otherwise do not have the capacity to turn around a mediation swiftly and effectively. Unless you specify your objection in writing, or unless your grievance is about the TSC Direction, you should assume that your complaint will be shared with the TSC Director so that she can assist in supporting the team member you reported the grievance to.
  3. Upon receipt of a grievance, the Team Support and Culture Director (or other leader) will review the grievance and determine the appropriate action to be followed.
  4. If the grievance is against the Team Support and Culture Director, it should be filed with the Managing Director. If the grievance is with the Executive Director, it should be filed with the Team Support and Culture Director.
  5. Once the Team Support and Culture Director or the Managing Director has investigated, and considered the grievance, the Team Support and Culture Director or the Managing Director will render a decision. The decision of the Team Support and Culture Director or Managing Director is final.
  6. If the above list of steps proves inadequate for resolution, a director may choose to seek outside mediation for the grievance.

“We are nonviolent in word and deed” is a core principle of Sunrise Movement. This principle applies not only to direct actions and social media posts, but also to how we treat one another. Beyond the fact that verbal, physical, sexual harassment and other types of discriminatory harassment are unlawful, they undermine the character and purpose of this movement.

The law does not permit, nor will Sunrise Movement tolerate, harassment or assault of Sunrise staff, volunteers, board members, or contractors by other Sunrise staff, volunteers, board members, or contractors. This policy is critical to our work. Actions that are inappropriate, even if they do not reach the level of illegal activity, will not be tolerated.

Sunrise Movement is committed to providing a space for all people that is free from sexual harassment, sexual or physical assault, and other types of discriminatory harassment.

Sunrise will not tolerate sexual harassment, which includes but is not limited to unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances or coercion, verbal abuse of a sexual nature, subtle pressure or requests for sexual activities, requests for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised benefits, inquiries into a person’s sexual experience, non-consensual touching, graphic verbal commentaries about a person’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe a person, display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, sexually explicit or offensive jokes, or physical assault, harassing photography or recording, stalking or following, continued one-on-one communication after requests to cease, or other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sunrise will not tolerate sexual or physical assault.

In addition to sexual harassment, Sunrise will not tolerate any form of harassment or discrimination based upon race, color, creed, ethnicity, religion, body size national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, age, dis/ability, citizenship status, veteran or military status, class, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy or medical status, genetic information, marital status, educational status, or any other characteristic protected under federal, state or local law.

Discrimination includes any conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or offensive working environment or that interferes with a person’s ability to work. Discrimination includes but is not limited to epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, jokes, denigrating or hostile written or graphic materials, deliberatly misgendering or using someone’s rejected or “dead” name, harassing photography or recording, unwelcome comments about someone’s lifestyle or choices, deliberate “outing” of any part of someone’s identity without their consent (except as necessary to protect other community members from abuse), or microaggressions that diminish, threaten, impede or intimidate a person based on any of the characteristics named above.

It is not possible to list all of the circumstances which would constitute sexual harassment or discrimination, especially those that are more subtle or insidious, but we expect that every Sunrise member will uphold the intent of this policy in their words and deeds. If a Sunrise member believes that they have been the subject of harassment or discrimination or have witnessed harassment or discrimination, they should report the incident. Read on to the complaint process to find links to complaint forms.

Sunrise takes all allegations of harassment and discrimination seriously. We recognize that reporting harassment and discrimination can be frightening and emotionally draining, so we assume that people report harassment and discrimination from a place of credibility. Sunrise will investigate each and every allegation of harassment and discrimination as discreetly, swiftly, and confidentially as possible to understand what happened.

If you feel that you are being harassed, or observe harassment of another employee, volunteer, intern, board member or fellow, Sunrise Movement recommends that you tell the person acting in an offensive manner in a clear and unambiguous way that their conduct is unwelcome and that you want it to stop. They may not be aware that their conduct is unwelcome or offensive.

However, if you are uncomfortable taking this action or if the conduct does not cease after you have warned the offending person(s) to stop, you should file a complaint.

When complaining of sexual harassment you should provide Sunrise Movement with the following details on our complaint form: Sunrise Movement Sexual Harassment Complaint Form. This form should then be submitted via email to our Team Support and Culture Director (see Directory below).

When complaining of discrimination or harassment of a non-sexual nature, you should provide Sunrise Movement with the following details on our complaint form: Harassment or Discrimination Complaint Form. This form should then be submitted via email to our Team Support and Culture Director (see Directory below).

All complaints of harassment reported to the organization's Team Support and Culture Director will be investigated in a timely, thorough and – to the extent possible – confidential manner. Sunrise Movement will not tolerate retaliation against any employee, volunteer, fellow, or board member for cooperating in an investigation into a complaint of harassment or for making a truthful complaint to the Team Support and Culture Director regarding harassment. If the complaint involves the Team Support and Culture Director, the complaint should be made to the Managing Director. If the complaint involves the Executive Director, the Managing Director will be informed and engaged in the process of addressing the complaint. At this stage in our grievance process, members are also allowed to self-select a movement leader other than the TSC Director from the list of existing directors. (See list with contact information at bottom of document).

If Sunrise Movement determines that a violation of this policy has occurred, effective remedial action will be taken appropriate to the circumstances. Actions may include training, discussion, counseling, limitations on participation, apology/statement of accountability, education on systems of oppression, coaching, or disciplinary action. With the consent of all parties, next steps may include a mediated conversation. Any member(s) determined by Sunrise Movement to be responsible for harassment will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including removal from the movement.

If Sunrise deems that we do not have the skills or capacity to appropriately address a violation internally, the person who has made the violation will be terminated from employment or asked to leave the fellowship program, or participation in Sunrise Movement if a volunteer.

Sunrise Movement encourages all movement members to report all concerns about inappropriate actions as soon as possible so that the complaint can be timely and fairly resolved.

Sunrise will not accept any form of retaliation against a person who in good faith reports harassment or discrimination. We understand that when someone makes an effort to eliminate harassment and discrimination from our movement, it roots our culture in respect and strengthens our shared work.

We take our duty to investigate allegations of wrongdoing seriously. Therefore, we may request a movement members cooperation during an investigation concerning a violation of policies or any other kind of alleged wrongdoing. Staff members, fellows, board members, interns and volunteers are expected to cooperate and be honest and thorough in their responses to any investigation. If you have any questions or concerns about your responsibilities under this policy, please contact the Team Support and Culture Director. Retaliation against any movement member for initiating, assisting, or participating in any manner in an investigation is strictly prohibited.

24/7 Confidential Sexual Assault Hotline:
Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) or access 24/7 help online by visiting online.rainn.org

Directory

Team Support and Culture Director-
Sarah Abbott
sarahabbott@sunrisemovement.org

Managing Director-
Sara Blazevic
sara@sunrisemovement.org

Executive Director-
Varshini Prakash
varshini@sunrisemovement.org

Operations Director-
Howie Stanger
howie@sunrisemovement.org