Search

Sexual Misconduct Policy

Last Updated: February 27, 2020


Please note the contents on this page are sensitive in nature.

Yoga Alliance™ believes that everyone has the right to practice yoga free from abuse. To achieve its goal of providing high quality, safe, accessible, and equitable environments for the practice and teaching of yoga, the conduct described in the definitions of this Policy will not be tolerated.

While Yoga Alliance does not have the same authority or resources to investigate or stop criminal activity as law enforcement bodies do, it does take all reported Grievances seriously. As such, we have an active grievance procedure in place for people to report any alleged conduct that happens in violation of this Policy. Reporting misconduct is extremely helpful in providing us with essential information that will ultimately inform our processes and decisions.

With this in mind, Yoga Alliance understands the sensitive nature of reporting misconduct and respects the emotional and physical safety of survivors. If you have experienced sexual misconduct in yoga and are unsure about making a report, please email grievance@yogaalliance.org. An Accountability Advisor will contact you to hold space and answer any questions you have about the investigative process and will not move forward with an Investigation without your express consent.

Though Yoga Alliance does not require a police report to investigate complaints, it does encourage Grievance reporters to consider exploring the criminal, legal, judicial, and social support systems available in their jurisdiction, based upon their individual comfort levels.

For more information on the options available to you, we encourage you to contact one of the organizations listed on our sexual misconduct resources page for further support.


Table of Contents

Prohibited Conduct
Procedure
    I. Definitions
    II. Application of this Policy
    III. Reporting a Grievance
    IV. Preliminary Review
    V. Activating an Investigation
    VI. Account Suspension
    VII. Confidentiality
    VIII. The Investigation
    IX. Findings and Decision
    X. Notice of Decision
    XI. Discipline
    XII. Appeal


Prohibited Conduct

The following are prohibited:

  1. Sexual Misconduct: unwelcomed conduct of a sexual nature, whether physical or verbal in nature.

    • Non-consensual sexual touching: a broad term that refers to any deliberate non-consensual touching of a person’s body, which conduct can range from unwanted touching, such as fondling, up to, and including, non-consensual sex.
    • Verbal: the use of sexually suggestive or explicit statements, whether through speech or written form, that create a hostile environment.

    While it is not possible to list all of the circumstances that may constitute sexual misconduct, the following are some examples of conduct, which, if unwelcome, may constitute sexual misconduct:

    • Unwelcome sexual advances, whether they involve physical touching or not;
    • Sexual epithets, jokes, written or verbal references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life, commentary on an individual’s body, commentary about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess;
    • Displays of sexually suggestive objects, pictures, or cartoons;
    • Unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, or suggestive or insulting comments;
    • Comments or conjecture about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity;
    • Inquiries into one’s sexual experiences; and/or
    • Discussion of one’s sexual activities.
  2. Retaliation: an adverse action taken against a Complainant or Witness in response to their submission of a complaint and/or participation in an Investigation. Examples of adverse action include: withholding a certificate of completion; firing or refusing to hire an individual; or expelling a trainee or student.

Procedure

Yoga Alliance’s Grievance Policy governs reports of misconduct, including sexual misconduct.

Reports of sexual misconduct must be initiated by the individual who has personally experienced sexual misconduct as defined in this Policy. If such individual is a minor at the time of the report, the individual’s parent or legal guardian can report the misconduct on their ward’s behalf.

In the interest of safety and privacy, Yoga Alliance will not initiate an Investigation based upon a third-party report of violations under this Policy.


I. Definitions

Accountability Department: the Yoga Alliance department responsible for accepting, reviewing, investigating, and deciding Grievances.

Appeal: either Party’s right to contest the Decision, but only on the following bases: (a) significant procedural lapses, or (b) the appearance of substantive new evidence not available at the time of the original Decision.

Complainant: a person who reports a Grievance.

Decision: any disciplinary action, sanction(s), or lack thereof determined to be appropriate and necessary by Yoga Alliance based on a preponderance of evidence gathered during the Investigation.

Grievance: any allegation of a violation of standards, requirements, Code of Conduct, Scope of Practice, and other policies, including the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Investigation: the fact-finding process that seeks whether there is sufficient, timely information to determine whether there has been a Policy violation.

Member: a person holding any active Yoga Alliance credential or membership Notice of Decision: the written communication from Yoga Alliance that notifies the Respondent of the findings of the Investigation and Yoga Alliance’s Decision, including any disciplinary action.

Notification of Investigation: the written Notification to the Respondent informing them of the initiation of an Investigation.

Party: the Complainant or Respondent; collectively, may be referred to as the “Parties.”

Preliminary Review: the Accountability Department’s initial review following receipt of a Grievance to determine whether to initiate an Investigation.

Prospective Member: a person who has an application pending for an RYS, RYT, and/or YACEP credential.

Respondent: a person who is alleged to have engaged in misconduct and who is responding to a Grievance.

Witness: a person whom the Complainant or Respondent identifies as having relevant information about the alleged violation or lack of violation.

Yoga Alliance: the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community; may be referred to as “YA” or “we.”


II. Application of this Policy

  1. This Policy applies to Members and prospective Members and regardless of whether the Complainant is a Member.
  2. Any Grievance must be reported to Yoga Alliance within two years of its occurrence, unless Yoga Alliance determines that an extension is warranted.

III. Reporting a Grievance

Reports of sexual misconduct must be initiated by the individual who has personally experienced sexual misconduct as defined in this Policy. If such individual is a minor at the time of the report, the individual’s parent or legal guardian can report the misconduct on their ward’s behalf.

In the interest of safety and privacy, Yoga Alliance will not initiate an Investigation based upon third-party or anonymous report of violations under this Policy.

To report a violation of the Policy, please submit the following information, which is also detailed in the Yoga Alliance Grievance Policy:

  • Your full name;
  • Your email and phone number, including any international extensions;
  • Full name of the Respondent;
  • A description of the conduct alleged to have violated the Policy;
  • The date(s) and location(s) of the alleged misconduct;
  • Names and contact information of Witnesses; and,
  • If necessary, a request for an exception to the two-year time limit for reporting a Grievance.

Yoga Alliance may request additional information from you during the course of review or Investigation of any Grievance.


IV. Preliminary Review

The Accountability Department will review reported Grievances to determine whether (a) the Policy applies to the subject of the complaint, (b) the Grievance is timely; and (c) the alleged conduct is covered by the Policy. If the complaint does not include all the information outlined in Yoga Alliance’s Grievance Policy, the Accountability Department will inform the Complainant, who will then be given the opportunity to provide the required information. If the required information is not provided within 21 days, Yoga Alliance may be unable to proceed with an Investigation.


V. Activating an Investigation

There are two ways to activate an Investigation:

  1. After Preliminary Review of a Grievance, the Accountability Department determines that there is sufficient information to proceed with an Investigation.
  2. Yoga Alliance chooses to initiate an Investigation on its own behalf.

Once an Investigation is activated, Yoga Alliance will provide the Respondent a written Notice of Investigation via electronic mail. In the event that a Respondent does not have an email address on file with Yoga Alliance, the Accountability Department will call the Respondent to notify them of the Investigation.


VI. Account Suspension

Yoga Alliance reserves the right to suspend any Member’s credentials and membership pending any of the following:

  1. A Yoga Alliance investigation;
  2. Law enforcement investigation; or
  3. Criminal or civil legal proceedings.

Yoga Alliance may choose to await the final outcome of a law enforcement investigation and/or criminal/civil legal proceedings prior to conducting or continuing an internal Investigation.


VII. Confidentiality

Yoga Alliance appreciates that participating in an Investigation—whether as a Complainant, Respondent, or Witness—can be difficult. We strive to balance the desire for confidentiality with the need to conduct a thorough and fair Investigation.

Information you provide to Yoga Alliance, including your identity, will remain confidential to the extent practical. However, we may disclose such information to the extent reasonably necessary in order for a meaningful Investigation to be conducted and to allow the Respondent to respond to the allegations. This may include disclosing information to an investigator and/or to Respondents and Witnesses. Further, please note that even where Yoga Alliance does not disclose your identity, your identity may be known by Respondents and Witnesses simply based on the allegations or facts of the case.

Similarly, any action taken or Decision made in response to the Grievance and information regarding the Investigation will remain confidential to the extent practical.


VIII. The Investigation

If an interview is requested of the Complainant or Respondent, they will have 21 days from the date of the request to participate in an interview and/or to provide information in writing.

The Complainant and Respondent will have an equal opportunity to be heard, to submit information, and to identify Witnesses who may have relevant information. The Accountability Department will notify and seek to interview all involved persons separately (e.g., the Complainant, the Respondent, and identified Witnesses) and will gather other evidence and information relevant to the determination as to whether a Policy violation has occurred. Witnesses must have information deemed relevant to the Investigation as determined by the Accountability Department; they cannot participate solely to speak about an individual’s character.


IX. Findings and Decision

The Accountability Department will consider the totality of information gathered in the Investigation to determine, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), whether the Respondent violated the Policy. In reaching a Decision the Accountability Department will consider things such as:

  • Party participation;
  • Detail provided;
  • Timeliness of the report;
  • Corroborating or conflicting information;
  • Plausibility of information provided;
  • Relevancy of information;
  • Omission of information.

X. Notice of Decision

Notwithstanding any other Policy or provision, at the conclusion of the Investigation, the Accountability Department will notify Parties as to whether there is sufficient information to establish a violation of this Policy. In addition, if a Respondent is found to have violated the Policy, they will be notified by the Notice of Decision.


XI. Discipline

If Yoga Alliance determines that a Respondent has violated the Policy, it will take such action as is appropriate under the circumstances. Such action may range from education to revocation of Yoga Alliance credential(s) and membership.


XII. Appeal

Either Party has the right to request an Appeal of the Decision. The right to Appeal is limited to (a) significant procedural lapses, or (b) the appearance of substantive new evidence not available at the time of the original Decision. Appeals shall not be based upon, or granted to, dissatisfaction with a Decision. Note: deliberate omission of information by the Appealing Party in the original Investigation is not grounds for Appeal.

Each Party has 21 days following the receipt of the Notice of Decision to request an Appeal. Requests for Appeal along with reasons for the requests, should be emailed to grievance@yogaalliance.org. If this is not possible, the Party requesting an Appeal must speak directly with the Accountability Department.

Appeals will be granted only in cases where the procedural problems are or new evidence is considered substantive enough to potentially affect the outcome. The Appeal will result in (a) affirming the findings and Decision, or (b) altering the findings and Decision only where there is clear error based on the stated Appeal grounds. The Appeal decisions are final and will be issued within 21 days to the Party requesting the Appeal.

The Senior Vice President of Membership and/or their designee(s) will review and decide all Appeals.

Yoga Alliance is a nonprofit 501(c)(6). Yoga Alliance Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3). This website refers to the two organizations as "Yoga Alliance." Copyright 2020 Yoga Alliance. Yoga Alliance, the Yoga Alliance logo, RYS, RYT, and YACEP are registered marks with the USPTO and other jurisdictions.

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

Copyright 2020 by Yoga Alliance