IYAGNY Process for Responding to Complaints

As part of an ongoing effort by IYAGNY to create and foster a safe, welcoming environment for students, IYAGNY has adopted the below processes for handling complaints against any CIYTs or other teachers employed at IYAGNY facilities with the approval of IYAGNY (collectively, “IYAGNY Teachers”).

For the purposes of these processes, a complaint is any statement conveyed by a student or other relevant person that the actions of an IYAGNY Teacher in the course of their IYAGNY duties (ie. the responsibilities for which they have been retained to perform by IYAGNY) have created or contributed to an environment or situation in IYAGNY facilities that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Examples of unacceptable situations in the Iyengar Yoga community include, but are not limited to, any sort of harmful abuse or harmful statement, any unreasonable touch, with or without consent, and any form of sexual harassment.

This process is intended to provide step-by-step guidance following the receipt of a complaint from a student.

Complaint Process
  1. A complaint is made by a student. Complaints can be made via:
    1. IYAGNY’s confidential online form; or
    2. directly (verbally or in writing) to the Executive Director, or, if unavailable, the Business Manager or Front Desk Manager.]
  1. In the case of 1(a) above, the IYAGNY Executive Director will receive the complaint directly in his email inbox.
  1. In the case of 1(b) above:
    1. The recipient of the complaint will encourage the complainant to complete the confidential online complaint form.
    2. If the complainant declines, the recipient of the complaint, if not the Executive Director, will promptly report the complaint to the Executive Director.
    3. The Executive Director and the recipient of the complaint, if applicable, will prepare a complaint form based on the report; provided, that, if (i) the complaint does not allege sexual harassment, and (ii) the complaint is capable of being appropriately handled informally pursuant to Clause 9(a) herein, preparation of a complaint form will not be required.
  1. If the complaint does not name the Association Director, Faculty Liaison, or the Executive Director (collectively, the “Executive Team”), then the Executive Team will review the complaint. Following review of the complaint, the Executive Team will promptly inform the IYAGNY Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of any allegations of sexual harassment.
  1. If the complaint implicates any of the Executive Team, then the Executive Director will forward the complaint directly to the IYAGNY Board President who will coordinate with the IYAGNY Executive Committee of the Board of Directors on management of the complaint.
  1. The Executive Team, or the Executive Director and the IYAGNY Board President, as applicable, will strictly maintain the confidentiality of all complainants and information related to the complaint and any resulting investigation. Information will be disclosed strictly on a need-to-know basis. All information pertaining to a complaint or investigation under this policy will be securely maintained. Out of respect for the privacy of all parties involved and in order to avoid compromising the investigation process, IYAGNY will ask that complainants refrain from discussing the investigation with others. However, if a complainant chooses to discuss or publicize their complaint, no action will be taken against them.
  1. The Executive Team, or the Executive Director and the IYAGNY Board President, as applicable, will take adequate steps to ensure that the complainant is protected from retaliation during and after the investigation. If a complainant suffers a specific harm from the accused party, or someone acting at their direction, following the submission of a complaint, the accused party will be presumed guilty of retaliation and subject to disciplinary procedures for such action in addition to any disciplinary procedures arising from the complaint itself.
  1. If a complaint is submitted with a request by the complainant to remain anonymous, following a review of the complaint, a determination must be made whether the complaint may be investigated and decided anonymously (i.e., without disclosure of the complainant’s identity to the accused or to other persons). If it is determined that it may not proceed as an anonymous complaint, the Executive Director will contact the complainant and give the complainant the option of either withdrawing the complaint or authorizing the disclosure of their name and other relevant information to others on a strictly need-to-know basis in order to further the investigation.
  1. If the complaint does not concern sexual harassment:
    1. If the complaint can be appropriately addressed informally, the Executive Team will coordinate informal management/discussion of any concerns raised with the complainant and other relevant parties.
    2. If the complaint cannot be appropriately addressed informally by the Executive Team (for example, when an investigation will need to take place, or when additional advice or assistance, legal or otherwise, is needed), then the Executive Team will consult with the IYAGNY Executive Committee of the Board of Directors on appropriate next steps. The group will coordinate with Lawyers Alliance on the retention of counsel as necessary.
  1. If the complaint concerns sexual harassment, the Executive Team or the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, as applicable, will address the complaint in the manner prescribed by the Complaint and Investigation of Sexual Harassment procedures contained in the IYAGNY Employee handbook and attached hereto as Exhibit A. The group will coordinate with Lawyers Alliance on the retention of counsel as necessary.
  1. Following a review of the complaint, if the Executive Team and/or Executive Committee of the Board of Directors believe that punitive or corrective action needs to take place with a teacher then they will inform the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States (“IYNAUS”) Ethical Committee and keep them informed as to the recommended steps.

Surveys and Research

Survey information collected anonymously from students for research or feedback purposes shall not constitute a “complaint” hereunder and will not be subject to the complaint procedures herein; provided, that, (i) survey-takers are informed that any information collected will not be subject to complaint procedures and (ii) survey-takers are informed of the appropriate method for filing a complaint.

Exhibit A: Complaint and Investigation of Sexual Harassment

The Human Rights Law (HRL), codified as N.Y. Executive Law, art. 15, § 290 et seq., applies to employers in New York State with regard to sexual harassment, and protects employees, paid or unpaid interns and non-employees regardless of immigration status. The below guidelines are adapted from the New York State “Sexual Harassment Policy for All Employers in New York State.”

All complaints or information about sexual harassment will be investigated, whether that information was reported in verbal or written form. Investigations will be conducted in a timely manner, and will be confidential to the extent possible.

An investigation of any complaint, information or knowledge of suspected sexual harassment will be prompt and thorough, commenced immediately and completed as soon as possible The investigation will be kept confidential to the extent possible. All persons involved, including complainants, witnesses and alleged harassers will be accorded due process, as outlined below, to protect their rights to a fair and impartial investigation.

Any employee may be required to cooperate as needed in an investigation of suspected sexual harassment. IYAGNY will not tolerate retaliation against employees who file complaints, support another’s complaint or participate in an investigation regarding a violation of this policy.

While the process may vary from case to case, investigations should be done in accordance with the following steps:

  • Upon receipt of a complaint, the Executive Director or the President of the IYAGNY Board of Directors, will conduct an immediate review of the allegations, and take any interim actions (e.g., instructing the respondent to refrain from communications with the complainant), as appropriate. If complaint is verbal, encourage the individual to complete the “Complaint Form” in writing. If he or she refuses, prepare a Complaint Form based on the verbal reporting.
  • If documents, emails or phone records are relevant to the investigation, take steps to obtain and preserve them.
  • Request and review all relevant documents, including all electronic communications.
  • Interview all parties involved, including any relevant witnesses;
  • Create a written documentation of the investigation (such as a letter, memo or email), which contains the following:
    • A list of all documents reviewed, along with a detailed summary of relevant documents;
    • A list of names of those interviewed, along with a detailed summary of their statements;
    • A timeline of events;
    • A summary of prior relevant incidents, reported or unreported; and
    • The basis for the decision and final resolution of the complaint, together with any corrective action(s).
  • Keep the written documentation and associated documents in a secure and confidential location.
  • Promptly notify the individual who reported and the individual(s) about whom the complaint was made of the final determination and implement any corrective actions identified in the written document.
  • Inform the individual who reported of the right to file a complaint or charge with local or other external authorities.

Iyengar Yoga
Institutes of New York
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