The American Association of Variable Star Observers (“AAVSO”) is committed to maintaining an environment that encourages and fosters respect for individual values and appropriate conduct by all officers, directors, employees, contractors, members, observers, volunteers and others. Accordingly, AAVSO is committed to enforcing this Non-Discrimination and Non-Harassment Policy to create an environment free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Discrimination or harassment based on race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, color, creed, religion, age, national origin, ethnicity, disability, veteran or military status, pregnancy, genetic information, marital status, citizenship status, or on any other legally prohibited basis (the “Protected Classes”) undermines the character and mission of AAVSO. Such discrimination or harassment violates AAVSO policy and will not be tolerated.



AAVSO is committed to the principals of equal employment and participation opportunity. Employment, hiring and membership decisions will be made without discrimination on the basis of membership in any Protected Class. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment of employees and contractors, including but not limited to recruiting, hiring, compensation, training and development, benefits, promotion, demotion, discipline and termination, and to all facets of membership participation. All AAVSO officers, directors, employees, contractors, members, observers, and others are expected to maintain and live up to the true meaning of non-discrimination.

AAVSO strongly urges the reporting of all instances of alleged discrimination through the use of the reporting procedures contained in this policy as specified below. Retaliation against any individual who reports discrimination in good faith or participates in an investigation of such a report is against AAVSO policy and will not be tolerated. Appropriate disciplinary action, including without limitation, termination of an individual’s relationship with AAVSO, will be taken against any individual who violates this policy.



It is the policy of AAVSO to maintain an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. In this regard, in addition to the Non-Discrimination policy set forth above, AAVSO prohibits sexual harassment as well as harassment based on any individual’s membership in a Protected Class , and any form of bullying through abusive conduct (together, “Prohibited Harassment”). This policy applies to all individuals who have relationships with AAVSO, including directors, officers, members, employees, volunteers, contractors and agents.  Appropriate disciplinary action, including without limitation, termination of an individual’s relationship with AAVSO, will be taken against any individual who violates this policy.

AAVSO will not tolerate Prohibited Harassment by or against any individual who has a relationship with AAVSO including officers, directors, employees, contractors, members, observers, volunteers and others.  This policy applies to all work-related settings and activities, whether online or inside or outside AAVSO facilities, and includes AAVSO-sponsored conferences and social events.  AAVSO property (for example, telephones, copy machines, facsimile machines, computers and computer applications such as e-mail and Internet access) may not be used to engage in conduct that violates this policy. 

Neither the existence of this policy, nor any policy prohibiting discrimination in the workplace, shall be used as a basis for excluding any person in any Protected Class from participating in any business activity or work-related social event in order to avoid allegations of Prohibited Harassment.


A. Definitions:

Sexual Harassment. Sexual Harassment is generally defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: 

a. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; 

b. submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting the individual; or

c. the requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive work environment.

 While it is not possible to list all of those circumstances that constitute sexual harassment, the following are examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment:

 i. Sexual advances -- whether they involve physical touching or not;

 ii. Requests for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised job benefits, such as favorable reviews, salary increases, promotions, increased benefits or continued employment;

 iii. Sexual jokes;

 iv. Use of sexual epithets, written or verbal references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life, comments on an individual’s body or comments about an individual’s sexual activity;

 v. Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons;

 vi. Leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or insulting comments;

 vii. Assault or coerced sexual acts.

Other Prohibited Harassment. As discussed above, harassment on the basis of a person’s membership in a Protected Class is also a violation of AAVSO policy. Such harassment is generally defined as verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of his or her Protected Class, or that of his or her relatives, friends, or associates, and that:

 a. Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive working environment; 

 b. Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or 

 c. Otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities.

Abusive conduct is intentional conduct by an individual that a reasonable person would find hostile or offensive considering the severity, nature and frequency of the conduct. Abusive conduct includes, but is not limited to, (A) repeated infliction of verbal abuse such as the use of derogatory remarks, insult and epithets; (B) verbal or physical conduct that is threatening, intimidating or humiliating; (C) the sabotaging or undermining of a person’s work performance; or (D) behavior that exploits a person’s known psychological or physical vulnerability.

B. Reporting Procedures:

All individuals are encouraged to promptly report any behavior perceived as Prohibited Harassment to the AAVSO Director, unless there is concern that such individual would not be responsive or is implicated in the harassment, in which case reports should be made to the AAVSO President or a member of the AAVSO Council.

Any reported incident will be promptly and thoroughly investigated by the AAVSO Operations Director (or, in case of conflict, a task force determined by the AAVSO Director).  In conducting a thorough investigation of any complaint, the investigating party will seek, to the extent possible consistent with a thorough investigation, to maintain confidentiality. All persons will be instructed to treat the investigation as confidential and not to discuss the allegations with other persons. AAVSO will expect honest and full disclosure of facts by all employees involved. 

If, as a result of the investigation, it is determined by a committee of the AAVSO Council charged with reviewing the investigation results that any individual engaged in conduct that either constitutes Prohibited Harassment or otherwise violates AAVSO’s policies or rules of conduct, the Council will ensure that appropriate corrective or disciplinary action will be taken. Such actions may include, without limitation and at AAVSO’s sole discretion, eliminating contact between the individuals involved in the incident, mandatory training and/or counseling, demotion, suspension or termination of employment, membership, or of the individual’s relationship with AAVSO.  In addition, the AAVSO Director and the President of the AAVSO Council will meet after the investigation with the individuals to make certain that any improper conduct has stopped, and that there has been no discrimination or retaliatory action.

While this policy sets forth AAVSO’s goals of promoting a workplace that is free of Prohibited Harassment, this policy is not designed or intended to limit AAVSO’s authority to discipline or to take remedial action for work-related conduct which it deems unacceptable, regardless of whether that conduct satisfies the definitions of Prohibited Harassment.


 C. Retaliation Prohibited:


It is against AAVSO policy to retaliate against any person for filing a complaint of Prohibited Harassment or for cooperating in an investigation of such a Complaint. AAVSO will not tolerate any retaliation against anyone who in good faith reports an incident of alleged Prohibited Harassment or who cooperates in an investigation. If an individual is found to have violated this non-retaliation policy, he or she may be subject to disciplinary action, including where appropriate, suspension, dismissal, termination of membership and/or of individual’s relationship with the AAVSO.


D. Other Information:

AAVSO strongly encourages employees to bring any concerns about possible Prohibited Harassment to its attention through the procedures set forth above.  Employees may also direct inquiries or reports concerning Prohibited Harassment to the agencies responsible for governmental enforcement of employment discrimination laws in the locations in which they work.  

E. State and Federal Remedies


In addition to the above, if you believe you have been subjected to sexual harassment, you may file a formal complaint with either or both of the government agencies set forth below. Using our complaint process does not prohibit you from filing a complaint with these agencies. Each of the agencies has a short time period for filing a claim (EEOC - 300 days; MCAD - 300 days).


The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") (link to


The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ("MCAD") (link to