Academy Adopts New Disciplinary Procedures to Enforce Code of Conduct

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The new rules were approved by the board of governors Saturday.

The Academy’s board of governors has approved new procedures for members to use to report workplace misconduct that violates the code of conduct that the Academy adopted last month for its members.

The new rules were adopted at a regular meeting of the Academy’s board of governors that took place Saturday.

In a letter to members, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson explained, “The Academy’s goal is not to be an an investigative body, but rather ensure that when a grievance is made, it will go through a fair and methodical process. This process will determine whether a claim will be brought to the board for possible action regarding membership status.”

Under the new procedures, claims can be submitted via a secure link on the Academy website or by phone call to the Academy's membership department. Claims must include supporting evidence such as a second witness, a second party who was told of the violation, a contemporaneous written report or evidence that the claim is part of an established pattern.

Claims will then be forwarded to the Academy's membership and administration committee, which can decide to take no action or to notify the subject of the claim that he or she has ten business days to respond to the charges. The committee can then decide if remedial action is necessary or if the matter should be referred to the board of governors. Only the board can decide whether to suspend or expel a member. The member will have ten business days to appeal any decision.

The Academy’s board previously approved its new "standards of conduct," to which its 8,427 members will be expected to adhere, at its last board meeting in December.  

"There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency," the text setting out the new code of conduct emphasizes. It also asserts, "If any member is found by the Board of Governors to have violated these standards or to have compromised the integrity of the Academy by their actions, the Board of Governors may take any disciplinary action permitted by the Academy’s Bylaws, including suspension or expulsion."

The standards of conduct were drafted by a "specially formed task force" led by governor David Rubin.

In an email to Academy members explaining the new code last month, Hudson said, "Over the course of weeks, the task force consulted with professors of ethics, business, philosophy, and law from Georgetown, Harvard, Notre Dame, and Stanford, as well as experts in human resources and sexual harassment. We met with our counterparts at the Television Academy and BAFTA, and, for reference, we also reviewed the codes of conduct of other organizations, including AFI, Film Independent, and UCLA."

This new development comes in the wake of Harvey Weinstein's Oct. 14 expulsion from the Academy following a barrage of sexual abuse, harassment and assault allegations. Weinstein became only the second person ever expelled from the organization, and the first for reasons related to sexual abuse. At the time, many noted that others accused of sexual assault — including Roman Polanski (who pled guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and fled the country), Bill Cosby and Stephen Collins — are still members of the organization. Since then, similar allegations have been made against several other Academy members, most notably two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey.

The full text of the new standards of conduct for members:

Academy membership is a privilege offered to only a select few within the global community of filmmakers. In addition to achieving excellence in the field of motion picture arts and sciences, members must also behave ethically by upholding the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity, inclusion, and a supportive environment that fosters creativity. The Academy asks that members embrace their responsibility to affirm these principles and act when these principles are violated. There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency. The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality. The Board of Governors believes that these standards are essential to the Academy’s mission and reflective of our values.

If any member is found by the Board of Governors to have violated these standards or to have compromised the integrity of the Academy by their actions, the Board of Governors may take any disciplinary action permitted by the Academy’s Bylaws, including suspension or expulsion.

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