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HWA Anti-Harassment Policy


The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion.

We do not tolerate harassment of our members or others in any form, including but not limited to any and all of our events, both in person, and online, and also on our social media platforms.


Attendees and users violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the convention or the organization without a refund at the discretion of the chairs and/or Board of Trustees.

Processes for Reporting Harassment

As evidenced by our anti-harassment policy, we at the Horror Writers Association take any type of harassment at any of our events or online platforms seriously. To that end, we would like to announce the process for reporting harassment.

Reporting Harassment Occurring in an Online Platform

While engaging with our online platforms and social media, members are asked to first contact each platform’s assigned and official monitor. If that is not viable, a user or anyone who sees and needs to report Harassment can email: complaint@horror.org.

Reporting Harassment Occurring at an HWA-Hosted Event

During an HWA-Hosted Event, such as StokerCon, all of the Horror Writers Association staff and volunteers will be identifiable by their specially-marked badges. Each volunteer will be briefed before the con begins on The Horror Writers Association’s anti-harassment policy and on how to handle reporting. If anyone sees or experiences an instance of harassment, they can bring their complaint to a volunteer or event staff.

In addition, we have an email address specifically for this issue. Use: complaint@horror.org. Anyone who sees or experiences harassment can, if they aren’t comfortable speaking to someone in person, file their complaint through that email address.

All complaints will be immediately brought to the Event Coordinators. They will then follow-up with any needed communication or investigation. If they determine that a formal investigation is called for, they will follow the procedure outlined below.

As said, we take this topic very seriously and want to ensure that everyone who attends a convention or participates with us in person or online with the Horror Writers Association has a great time free from any type of harassment.

Procedure for Formal Investigation of Complaints

Using guidelines set forth by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and procedures established for use by other non-profit organizations, the Horror Writers Association’s procedure for investigation of harassment complaints is as follows:

  1. REPORT – Reports of harassment that occurred at one of HWA’s events should be made to complaint@horror.org. The initial report should include the date and location of the incident(s), contact information for any witnesses, and as much detail as possible. If said issue arises while using one of our online portals, please contact the appropriate moderator of that forum.
  2. CONFIDENTIALITY AND PROTECTION FROM RETALIATION – The Horror Writers Association will protect the confidentiality of harassment allegations to the extent possible. HWA cannot guarantee complete confidentiality since it cannot conduct an effective investigation without revealing certain information to the alleged harasser (the respondent) and potential witnesses. However, information about the allegation of harassment will be shared only with those who need to know about it. Records relating to harassment complaints will be kept confidential on the same basis. HWA/The Horror Writers Association will also work to protect complainants against retaliation.
  3. DETERMINING IF AN INVESTIGATION IS NEEDED – As soon as HWA/The Horror Writers Association learns about alleged harassment, it will determine whether a detailed fact-finding investigation is necessary. For example, if the alleged harasser does not deny the accusation, there would be no need to interview witnesses, and HWA/The Horror Writers Association could immediately determine appropriate corrective action.
  4. INVESTIGATION PROCEDURE – If a fact-finding investigation is determined to be necessary, HWA’s management or administrator will conduct the investigation as soon as possible. The investigation will objectively gather and consider the relevant facts. When detailed fact-finding is necessary, the investigator(s) will interview the complainant, the alleged harasser, and third parties who could reasonably be expected to have relevant information. Information relating to the personal lives of the parties outside the workplace would be relevant only in unusual circumstances.
  5. CONDUCTING INTERVIEWS – The following are examples of questions that may be appropriate to ask the parties and potential witnesses. Any actual investigation must be tailored to the particular facts.
    1. Questions to Ask the Complainant:
      • Who, what, when, where, and how: Who committed the alleged harassment? What exactly occurred or was said? When did it occur and is it still ongoing? Where did it occur? How often did it occur? How did it affect you?
      • How did you react? What response did you make when the incident(s) occurred or afterwards?
      • How did the harassment affect you? Has your career been affected in any way?
      • Are there any persons who have relevant information? Was anyone present when the alleged harassment occurred? Did you tell anyone about it? Did anyone see you immediately after episodes of alleged harassment?
      • Did the person who harassed you harass anyone else? Do you know whether anyone complained about harassment by that person?
      • Are there any notes, physical evidence, or other documentation regarding the incident(s)?
      • How would you like to see the situation resolved?
      • Do you know of any other relevant information?
    2. Questions to Ask the Alleged Harasser:
      • What is your response to the allegations?
      • If the harasser claims that the allegations are false, ask why the complainant might lie.
      • Are there any persons who have relevant information?
      • Are there any notes, physical evidence, or other documentation regarding the incident(s)?
      • Do you know of any other relevant information?
    3. Questions to Ask Third Parties:
      • What did you see or hear? When did this occur? Describe the alleged harasser’s behavior toward the complainant and toward others in the workplace.
      • What did the complainant tell you? When did s/he tell you this?
      • Do you know of any other relevant information?
      • Are there other persons who have relevant information?
  6. CREDIBILITY DETERMINATIONS – If there are conflicting versions of relevant events, HWA will have to weigh each party’s credibility. Credibility assessments can be critical in determining whether the alleged harassment in fact occurred. Factors to consider include:
    • Inherent plausibility: Is the testimony believable on its face? Does it make sense?
    • Demeanor: Did the person seem to be telling the truth or lying?
    • Motive to falsify: Did the person have a reason to lie?
    • Corroboration: Is there witness testimony (such as testimony by eye-witnesses, people who saw the person soon after the alleged incidents, or people who discussed the incidents with him or her at around the time that they occurred) or physical evidence (such as written documentation) that corroborates the party’s testimony?
    • Past record: Did the alleged harasser have a history of similar behavior in the past?
  7. PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE – In most civil cases/lawsuits as well as administrative hearings, a party must prove its claim or position by a preponderance, defined as a superiority in weight, force, importance, etc. In legal terms, a preponderance of evidence means that a party has shown that its version of facts, causes, damages, or fault is more likely than not the correct version, as in personal injury and breach of contract suits. This standard is the easiest to meet and applies to all civil cases unless otherwise provided by law.
  8. REACHING A DETERMINATION – Once all of the evidence is in, interviews are finalized, and credibility issues are resolved, HWA’s Board of Trustees will be presented with the evidence, will make a determination as to whether harassment occurred, and determine appropriate action. The parties will be informed of the determination.
  9. APPEALING THE DECISION – The complainant or respondent may request a reconsideration of the case in instances where they are dissatisfied with the outcome. The appeal must be made within five (5) calendar days of the date of the written notification of the findings. An appeal must be in writing and specify the basis for the appeal. The original finding is presumed to be reasonable and appropriate based on a preponderance of the evidence. The only grounds for appeal are as follows:
    • New information discovered after the investigation that could not have reasonably been available at the time of the investigation and is of a nature that could materially change the outcome;
    • Procedural errors within the investigation or resolution process that may have substantially affected the fairness of the process;
    • An outcome (findings or sanctions) that was manifestly contrary to the weight of the information presented (i.e., obviously unreasonable and unsupported by the great weight of information).

Updated June 2020

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