SPIE policies and reporting

Information on this page

SPIE has established a confidential reporting system for all meeting participants to raise concerns about possible unethical or inappropriate behavior within our community. Complaints may be filed by phoning toll-free to +1-888-818-6898 from within the United States and Canada or by using the form at www.spie.ethicspoint.com.

When at an SPIE event, you may contact any SPIE staff with concerns. If you feel that you are in immediate danger, please dial the local emergency number for police intervention.

Effective Date: 7 December 2018
Supersedes: 15 October 2013


This policy applies to everyone who participates in SPIE activities; all employees, participants at SPIE events, and people who serve in a volunteer capacity for SPIE, including without limitation, any board member, conference or committee chair, and instructor.

It is SPIE policy that all employees, volunteers, and participants are entitled to respectful treatment. Any form of bullying, discrimination, harassment, sexual or otherwise, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This policy applies to all locations and situations where SPIE business is conducted and to all SPIE-sponsored activities and events.

The Board of Directors and SPIE management expect all individuals to be treated with respect and dignity and will not tolerate any form of harassment based on age, gender or gender orientation, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, disability, veteran status, genetic information, national origin, or race. SPIE will not tolerate harassment of, or retaliation against, individuals who take actions to report, oppose or correct behavior that violates this policy or who participate in investigations or other enforcement actions by state or federal agencies charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws.


  • Bullying is the ongoing abuse and intentional mistreatment of one or more vulnerable persons or groups by a more powerful individual or group. Bullying consists of repeated verbal (name-calling, verbal attacks), physical (use of physical force or aggression), and/or social behavior (ostracism, exclusion, spreading rumors) that causes physical or psychological harm or interferes with the person's ability to participate in SPIE activities. Being "more powerful" may include being physically bigger or stronger, having more social status, or having influence over someone's employment or professional advancement.
  • Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of categories of people based on personal attributes such as age, gender or gender orientation, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, disability, veteran status, genetic information, national origin, or race.
  • Harassment consists of unwanted, unwelcomed, and uninvited behavior that demeans, threatens, or offends another and results in a hostile environment. Harassing behavior includes, but is not limited to, the use of epithets, derogatory comments or slurs, assault, stalking, impeding or blocking movement, threats of violence, offensive touching, any physical interference with normal work or movement, and visual insults, such as derogatory images, posters, or cartoons. Harassment is often (but not always) based upon personal attributes such as age, gender or gender orientation, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, disability, veteran status, genetic information, national origin, or race.
  • Sexual harassment consists of harassing behavior based upon sex, gender, or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, lewd comments or images, or other verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature where such conduct creates an unreasonable, intimidating, hostile, or sexually offensive environment and may interfere with the target's professional performance.
  • Retaliation consists of negative action or treatment towards someone who has reported bullying, discrimination, or harassment or participated in the investigation of such report. Retaliation may include terminating or demoting a reporting employee, excluding a reporting individual from work or professional activities, injuring a reporting individual's professional or personal reputation, or unjustly demeaning a reporting individual's work. Retaliation can be used as a method of bullying or harassment, but more importantly retaliation creates an environment that discourages victims and bystanders from reporting offensive behavior and is prohibited. Examples of tangible actions include, but are not limited to, hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, reassignments involving a substantial decrease in responsibilities or opportunities for promotion, advancement or compensation.

Personal responsibility

Individuals may be unaware that their conduct is offensive and are often willing to correct their behavior if so informed. If you experience or witness bullying, discrimination, or harassment, and feel empowered to do so, you are encouraged to immediately inform the individual that their comments or behavior are unwelcome.

However, SPIE understands that direct communication is not possible or advisable in every situation. Please note that you are not required to directly address or confront a person engaged in offensive behavior. If you do not feel comfortable addressing the violator, or if the violator continues the behavior after being advised that their conduct is unwelcome, you should report the incident.

You are also encouraged to write down as many relevant details as you can recall (e.g., names, dates, times, locations, behavior or statements made, etc.), which can be helpful in investigation of the incident.

Management responsibility

SPIE directors, supervisors, Board Members, and conference and committee chairs have a heightened responsibility to monitor the work environment and behavior of employees, members and volunteers for compliance with this policy, and to report inappropriate behavior, cooperate with the investigation, and provide input when appropriate. SPIE management must investigate allegations of bullying, discrimination or harassment, take appropriate disciplinary action, and ensure steps are taken to assure retaliation does not occur.

Reporting procedure

  1. An individual who believes they have been the object of, have observed, or know of conduct violating this policy, is encouraged to promptly report the incident(s) to the human resources director, director of administration, CEO, COFO, the SPIE president, or if onsite at an SPIE event, report to any SPIE staff member. Incidents may also be reported by calling the 24-hour SPIE reporting hotline at 1-888-818-6898 or online at www.spie.ethicspoint.com.
  2. It is difficult for SPIE to act on anonymous reports of bullying, discrimination, or harassment, however they will still be investigated to the extent possible. SPIE is very sensitive to the potential ramifications of making a report and will maintain your confidentiality to the extent possible except where doing so would compromise another person's rights or the SPIE ability to conduct a thorough investigation. In such cases, SPIE will limit disclosure only to that information necessary to ensure proper investigation and compliance with procedures.
  3. Upon receiving a report of misconduct, SPIE will conduct a prompt, thorough investigation, which will include speaking with all parties with knowledge of the incident, including the reporting individual, the alleged victim (if different from the reporting individual), any known witnesses, and the alleged offender.
  4. An investigation will be led by the SPIE director of human resources, working in conjunction with the CEO, COFO, and/or the SPIE president. SPIE may seek other legal or professional counsel as needed prior to recommending a decision and any follow-up actions.
  5. SPIE employees asked to participate in investigations will be informed of the confidentiality requirements for the circumstances of each investigation. Employees who violate directions regarding confidentiality will be subject to disciplinary action.

Disciplinary action

  1. SPIE may take any disciplinary action it deems appropriate in response to a violation of this policy, which may include suspension or ejection from an SPIE activity or event without refund or recompense or, for SPIE employees, disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Serious or repeated offenses may result in more significant consequences such as being banned from participation in future SPIE events or volunteer activities, contacting the violator's employer, termination of SPIE membership or employment, filing a report with law enforcement, etc. as applicable.
  2. If the claimant or the person about whom the complaint was made, is not satisfied with the handling of a report or action taken, they should bring their concerns to the attention of the president of SPIE.

No retaliation will be taken or tolerated against anyone who makes a good faith report of bullying, discrimination, or harassment to SPIE. individuals who believe they have been retaliated against in violation of this provision or who have witnessed or know of such retaliation, should report this information to the SPIE director of human resources, director of administration, CEO, COFO, the SPIE president, or if onsite at an SPIE event, report to any SPIE staff member. Incidents may be reported by calling the 24-hour SPIE reporting hotline at +1-888-818-6898 or online at www.spie.ethicspoint.com. Any reports of retaliation will be investigated similarly to complaints of harassment.

Individuals have the right to report conduct which they believe violates federal or state anti-discrimination laws to governmental agencies who are charged with enforcing such laws. Individuals have 300 days from the date the conduct occurred to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (federal) or six months to file a charge with the Washington State Human Rights Commission (state).

For any question about this policy please contact the SPIE Human Resource Director, Sarah Wills, sarahw@spie.org.

SPIE is committed to providing a harassment- and discrimination-free experience for everyone at our events, an experience that embraces the richness of diversity where participants may exchange ideas, learn, network, and socialize in the company of colleagues in an environment of mutual respect.

SPIE does not tolerate harassment of event participants, attendees, exhibitors, speakers, volunteers, contractors, service providers, venue staff, or SPIE staff. This code of conduct applies to all SPIE meeting-related events, including those sponsored by other organizations but held in conjunction with SPIE events, in public or private facilities.

In addition, SPIE Members and authors of SPIE publications must adhere to the SPIE guidelines for ethical publishing.

Expected behavior

  • Treat everyone with respect and consideration, valuing a diversity of views and opinions Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants
  • Alert SPIE staff if you notice a dangerous situation, someone in distress, or someone being harassed

Unacceptable behavior

  • Physical or verbal abuse of any kind
  • Unwanted sexual advances, jokes, or comments
  • Other examples of unacceptable behavior include, but are not limited to, unwelcome slurs, jokes or verbal, graphic, or physical conduct relating to an individual's race, color, religious creed, sex, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, gender or sexual orientation; verbal comments or electronic communication that reinforces social structures of domination (such as related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance/size, race, age, religion, nationality) or other offensive, non-inclusive remarks; and deliberate intimidation, stalking or following others, verbal abuse, aggressive verbal confrontations, and threats of violence and disruptive behavior
  • Disruption of talks at oral or poster sessions, in the exhibit hall, or at other events organized by SPIE at the meeting venue, hotel or other SPIE-contracted facilities including those sponsored by other organizations but held in conjunction with SPIE events, in public or private facilities


  • SPIE staff or venue security guards may take any action deemed necessary and appropriate, including immediate removal from the meeting without warning or refund
  • SPIE reserves the right to prohibit attendance at any future meeting

Reporting unacceptable behavior

  • If you experience or witness inappropriate behavior, please notify any SPIE staff. If you are unsure whom to contact, go to the Cashier Desk and someone can assist you.
  • Or contact the SPIE reporting hotline at 1-888-818-6898 or report online at www.spie.ethicspoint.com
  • Anyone experiencing or witnessing behavior that constitutes an immediate threat to someone's personal safety should dial emergency services (911 in the US)