Published Date

September 8, 2023

Resource Type

AHA Policies and Documents, For Departments

AHA Topics

Academic Departmental Affairs, Professional Life

Approved by AHA Council, June 9, 2019. Updated September 2023.

The AHA annual meeting and other officially sanctioned AHA activities are convened for the purposes of professional development and scholarly and educational interchange in the spirit of free inquiry and free expression. Harassment of colleagues, students, or other conference participants at these events undermines the principle of equity at the heart of these professional forums and is inconsistent with those principles of free inquiry and free expression. Consequently, harassment is considered by the AHA to be a serious form of professional misconduct.

Ethics and norms outlined in the AHA’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct, along with the principles articulated in this policy, apply as standards of behavior and interaction at all AHA-sanctioned activities.



The AHA is committed to creating and maintaining a harassment-free environment for all participants in the Association’s activities, regardless of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, race, ethnicity, nationality, ability, socioeconomic status, veteran status, age, or religion.

All members and participants, including employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers, and guests, are expected to engage in consensual and respectful behavior and to preserve the AHA’s standard of professionalism at all times. The following Code of Professional Conduct pertains to all venues where officially sanctioned AHA conferences, meetings, and other activities occur, whether in person, by telephone, or through electronic communication. It complements, but does not replace the AHA’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct.

Expected Behavior

  • All participants are expected to abide by this Code of Professional Conduct at all officially sanctioned AHA activities,
  • All participants are expected to abide by the norms of professional respect that are necessary to promote the conditions for free academic interchange.
  • If you witness potential harm to a participant, be diplomatically proactive in helping to mitigate or avoid that harm.
  • Alert staff, security personnel, or law enforcement if you see a situation in which someone might be in imminent physical danger.

Unacceptable Behavior

  • Persistent and unwelcome solicitation of emotional or physical intimacy.
  • Persistent and unwelcome solicitation of emotional or physical intimacy accompanied by real or implied threat of professional harm.
  • Intimidating, harassing, abusive, derogatory, or demeaning speech or actions by any participant in an officially sanctioned AHA activity.
  • Prejudicial actions or comments related to actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, race, ethnicity, ability, socioeconomic status, age, or religion that coerce others, foment broad hostility, or otherwise undermine professional equity or the principles of free academic exchange. Harassment might also include unprofessional and unethical behaviors, such as intentionally misgendering someone, refusing to use a person’s preferred pronouns, or making inappropriate remarks about a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • Deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following.
  • Harassing photography or recording without permission
  • Sustained disruption of presentations or other events, including yelling at or threatening speakers (verbally or physically).
  • Physical assault (including unwelcome touch or groping).
  • Real or implied threat of physical harm.

Unacceptable behavior includes sexual harassment. The AHA has no tolerance for sexual harassment in any setting. Sexual harassment is behavior (speech or actions) in formal or informal settings that demeans, humiliates, or threatens an individual on the basis of their sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment can also take nonsexual forms and includes discriminatory remarks or actions based on an individual’s sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal comment or physical conduct of a sexual nature, including situations in which the request or conduct involves any implied or expressed promise of professional reward for complying; or the request or conduct involves any implied or expressed threat of reprisal or denial of opportunity for refusing to comply; or the request or conduct results in what reasonably may be perceived as a hostile or intimidating environment. Such examples are illustrative, not exhaustive. Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature or consensual personal and social relationships without discriminatory effect. It refers to behavior that reasonably situated persons would regard as not welcome and as personally intimidating, hostile, or offensive.

According to US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, the victim of harassment can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct, not just the individual at whom the conduct is directed.

Retaliation against a complainant is also a violation of this policy.

AHA Responsibilities

This policy and the structure for addressing violations will be clearly and prominently displayed on the AHA website. All participants in the annual meeting and other officially sanctioned AHA activities will be required to acknowledge this policy and their willingness to abide by it as part of the registration process.

The executive director will provide an annual report of aggregated data, which will be circulated to the full Council and made available to the membership upon request.

Any person who has experienced a serious verbal threat or any physical assault should contact law enforcement officials immediately.

The AHA will maintain a team to receive complaints from and provide resources for any participant in the annual meeting or other AHA-sanctioned activity who has experienced or witnessed violations of this policy. The contact information for team members will be made available on the AHA website and in registration materials. Team members will be on site at the annual meeting and available for other AHA-sanctioned activities. A member of this team can describe the reporting procedure and can outline available resources. Neither the team nor any other AHA official can provide legal advice to individuals who make reports under this policy.

Reporting an incident of unacceptable behavior does not obligate the reporter to pursue any further action. Depending upon the severity and nature of the report, and in compliance with local, state, and federal law, the AHA may be compelled to contact law enforcement and/or address the report with AHA officials or the AHA Council.

Any participant in officially sanctioned AHA activities may pursue a complaint according to the procedures outlined in the Procedures for Addressing Violations of the AHA Code of Professional Conduct.


Procedures for Addressing Violations of the Code of Professional Conduct

The primary goal of the Code of Professional Conduct and its enforcement is to ensure a safe environment for all participants in meetings and events of the American Historical Association (AHA).

This document describes procedures for addressing reports of unacceptable behavior at meetings and events of the AHA. The procedures described might not cover all possible circumstances, and AHA staff may exercise their professional judgment regarding the effective enforcement of the Code of Professional Conduct.


  • Participants: anyone who is present at an AHA meeting or event including members, other attendees, staff, contractors, temporary staff, vendors, exhibitors, and venue staff
  • Target: anyone who experiences unacceptable behavior that violates the Code of Professional Conduct
  • Witness: anyone who sees an incident that allegedly violates the Code of Professional Conduct
  • Reporter: anyone who contacts the Investigators to report an alleged incident of unacceptable behavior, including targets, witnesses, or bystanders
  • Alleged violator: anyone who has been identified by a Reporter as having allegedly violated the Code of Professional Conduct
  • Investigators: individuals who are assigned the duty of following up on reports of incidents that allegedly violate the Code of Professional Conduct
  • Formal Complaint: a report of an incident to the investigator with a request to take action

Intake and Investigation

The Intake and Investigation Team (Investigators) is comprised of trained volunteers from the AHA staff and a member of AHA Council appointed by the President.

Intake Process

  1. Reports of alleged violations of the Code of Professional Conduct may be received by Investigators via email (
  2. The Investigators will interview the Reporter. If the Reporter is not the Target, then the Investigators will interview the Target as well.
  3. The Investigators should obtain the consent of the Target before continuing an investigation.
  4. Investigations might include interviewing witnesses; reviewing relevant information such as emails, text messages, tweets, etc.; interviewing the Alleged violator; and interviewing witnesses identified by the Alleged violator
  5. Following the investigation, the Investigators will provide a report of the incident and make recommendations to the Association’s decision-making team.


In order to encourage reporting of incidents, reports and the names of Reporters will be kept confidential to the extent possible. However, neither the Reporter nor the Target can be guaranteed confidentiality.

Reporting Data

The AHA will provide an annual report of aggregated data about incidents and outcomes upon request.

Reports of Workplace Harassment

Investigators might receive reports of incidents that have occurred at participants’ workplaces or settings other than AHA meetings and events. These incidents are outside of AHA’s capability to address.

Decision on Consequences

The decision-making team for AHA meetings and events comprises the executive director of the AHA in consultation with at least one member of the Executive Committee. Any member of the team with professional or personal ties to the Alleged violator or Target, or with any other real or perceived conflict of interest in the decision, must recuse themselves from participation in the decision-making process.

Decision Process

  1. The Investigators provide the executive director with the results of the investigation and with their recommendation for consequences, if any, for the Alleged violator.
  2. If time permits, the executive director consults with at least one member of the Executive Committee when making the decision on consequences.
  3. The executive director informs the Alleged violator and the Target and implements the decision.

Possible Consequences

If a violation has been determined, possible consequences to be implemented at the meeting or event may include:

  • Warn the violator to cease their behavior and that any further reports will result in more serious consequences
  • Require that the violator immediately leave the event and not return
  • Ban the violator from future events (either indefinitely or for a certain time period).
  • Immediately end any volunteer responsibilities and privileges the violator holds.
  • Require that the violator not volunteer or serve as a contract employee or vendor for AHA, either indefinitely or for a certain time period.
  • Remove and ban the violator from membership in AHA, following established procedures

Appeals Procedure

Violators who wish to appeal the AHA’s decision may contact the executive director in writing with further information regarding the incident. If necessary, the Investigators will conduct additional interviews or other information gathering.

If the executive director finds that a reconsideration of the decision is warranted, the Executive Committee will be consulted.

The executive director’s decision can also be appealed to the President, who will consult additional Council members as appropriate and initiate additional investigation as necessary. The executive director’s decision can be overturned by a majority of the executive committee or full Council.