Limmud Complaints Procedure
We do hope that you have an enjoyable time at our events or as a Limmud volunteer. We do hope that everything runs smoothly, and since all the event organisers are volunteers, we do ask for your understanding when things occasionally don’t go to plan.
If something does go wrong at an event, such as the food or accommodation, you should start by speaking to the event helpdesk team and they will see if they can help.
If you do have a complaint about a person, whether a volunteer or a participant, we will follow the procedures set out here. Limmud takes all complaints seriously but especially allegations of harassment and will deal with them promptly and in confidence. We will try and deal with complaints to give effect to our values, especially respect, empowerment, participation and arguments for the sake of heaven (which includes that arguments should be respectful and not personal or abusive). What we mean by harassment is set out in the Code of Conduct for volunteers and participants; and this includes bullying, victimisation or any other sort of unacceptable conduct.
We have two complaints procedures:
- Complaints at events: if you are at an event and wish to make a complaint about anyone involved in running the event or the conduct of another participant.
- Complaints about fellow volunteers: if you are member of a volunteer team and wish to make a complaint about a fellow volunteer.
Complaints Procedure at Events
This procedure applies for issues which arise at events such as unacceptable, rude or abusive behaviour by anyone towards a volunteer, Limmud or site staff member, CST or other non-Limmud volunteer or other participant (“the complainant”). This includes shouting, swearing and abusive language as well as physical attacks, including e.g. throwing something. The priority here is establishing what has happened and seeing if an apology can be provided, if the complaint is justified, and taking quick action to deal with the complaint if not without distracting the team unduly from the running of the event.
- The first step is for the person dealing with the incident to ensure that it is properly recorded, even if that’s just by making a note on a phone into an email. The person dealing with the incident might be the complainant, or someone who witnessed it and intervened, or because they are a team member or helpdesk volunteer to whom a complaint has been made.
- All complaints, even if resolved at an early stage with an apology, should still be logged and notified to the team co-chair and the Limmud office. If discussion with the complainant establishes early on that they do not wish to take the complaint any further than that discussion, they should still be given the option of logging the complaint.
- The route for complaints is essentially for them to be referred through a senior volunteer to a member of the complaints panel.
- As a preliminary step, if there is a suitable volunteer supervisor who has oversight of the area or role (for example dining room manager, resource room manager, bar manager, or a team co-chair if present), the complaint should be reported to them. They may take the opportunity, if they wish, to speak to the person against whom the complaint is being made is still around, to speak to them, to try to defuse the situation, point out any unacceptable behaviour, and obtain an apology if that is appropriate. A volunteer supervisor should not feel obliged to deal with this if they feel uncomfortable doing so, in which case they should refer it on immediately; and the same applies if talking to the person against whom the complaint is made shows that there is an argument about what happened, which the supervisor should not try to resolve.
- If there is no volunteer supervisor available, or if the supervisor does not think it’s appropriate to try and speak to the person complained about, the incident should be referred to the relevant team co-chair via text / email / whatsapp or in person (at Conference this will be a steering group member). The aim is to refer the complaint as soon as possible to the team co-chair, who will deal with it on behalf of the team.
- A supervisor or co-chair dealing with a complainant who is upset and a volunteer on a shift, should check if they are happy to continue with their shift/task or if they want to take a break.
- The team co-chair is the person primarily responsible for reviewing the incident and deciding that this should be treated as a formal complaint. If they consider that this is in fact relatively trivial they may if they wish find the complainant to discuss it further with them. However, usually the co-chair will then refer the complaint to the event team’s nominated complaints officer by forwarding the note of the complaint.
- The complaints officer will pass this to a member of the pre-determined panel of senior / experienced Limmud volunteers. The panel member(s) will arrange to meet with the complainant and then the alleged perpetrator to talk through the issue.
- Panel members should be aware that the person about whom the complaint is made may have been provoked or had a legitimate issue to raise but conduct which is unpleasant or causes upset is rarely if ever justified no matter how serious the issue. If rude or abusive conduct is admitted to have taken place, even if it is said to be justified, this should be recorded. If there is an issue about what in fact took place, the panel member may have to speak to others who were around at the time.
- A panel member may resolve the complaint in a number of ways: by establishing that there is no proper basis for the complaint, or by obtaining a sufficient apology. If the panel member is reasonably satisfied that the complaint is justified, they may also issue a warning to the perpetrator, which should be recorded in writing and sent to them after the conversation. The panel member may also decide that further action is required.
- In the event of multiple incidents by one perpetrator, or a very serious incident, or if the panel member is unable to resolve the issue and it merits further attention, they should refer the whole matter to the Limmud Chair or deputising board member. The Chair will assemble a panel of 3 Limmud board members to reach a decision and ask the perpetrator to attend a meeting of the board panel.
- If the issue is serious and the complaint is upheld, the perpetrator should be asked to leave the event. If this decision is taken, The Limmud Chair will liaise with the Limmud Board, the Limmud Office, the site and CST to arrange for the individual to be removed from Conference and a formal letter to be subsequently sent to them advising them of the reasons for the decision. The Limmud Chair’s decision is final.
- All stages in the process should be made the subject of a written note after any relevant conversation and the notes kept by the Limmud office. The outcome of all complaints should be notified to the event co-chairs and any board link as well as the Office and notified in writing (email / text is sufficient) to the original complainant, supervisor, team co-chair and anyone else involved in managing the complaint.
Complaints Procedure for Ongoing Volunteer / Team Situations
This applies to issues between volunteers where a resolution of the complaint should ideally result in repairing an ongoing working relationship between volunteers, or, in serious cases, where the sanction might include removing a volunteer from a role. “You” in this section is the volunteer who is making the complaint.
- If an incident happens which you think may be harassment (including bullying, victimisation or abusive conduct of any sort), you may prefer initially to attempt to resolve the problem informally, if you feel able to do so. In some cases it may be possible and sufficient to explain clearly to the person engaging in the unwanted conduct that the behaviour in question is not welcome, that it offends you or makes you uncomfortable and that it interferes with your work. You should make it clear that you want the behaviour to stop.
- In circumstances where this is too difficult or embarrassing for you to do on your own, you could seek support from a friend, fellow volunteer, or a member of the Limmud board. If the incident concerns an event participant, presenter or supplier or other third party, you may wish to ask your co-chair or team chair to intervene for you on an informal basis.
- If you are in any doubt as to whether an incident or series of incidents which have occurred constitute harassment, then in the first instance you should approach a team co-chair or a member of the Limmud board on an informal confidential basis. They will be able to advise you as to whether the complaint necessitates further action, in which case the matter will be dealt with formally/informally as appropriate.
- If the conduct continues or if it is not appropriate to resolve the problem informally or you do not feel able to raise it informally, it should be raised through the following formal process.
- Where informal methods fail or are not appropriate, or serious harassment occurs, you are advised to complain formally in writing (usually by email) to your team’s organisational link or liaison, or if you don’t feel that that is an appropriate person, to the chair of Limmud. Your written complaint should set out full details of the conduct in question, including the name of the perpetrator, the nature of the conduct complained of, the date(s) and time(s) at which it occurred, the names of witness(es) and any action that has been taken to attempt to stop it occurring.
- While the complaint is investigated, consideration will be given to keeping the complainant and the alleged perpetrator separated, if this is at an event or if there are team activities at which both would like to be present. In serious cases the alleged perpetrator may be suspended from their role in order for the complaint to be investigated.
- A senior volunteer will be asked to look into the complaint. You will be interviewed by that person to establish full details of what happened. You may bring a fellow volunteer with you to this meeting if you choose. They will then carry out a thorough, independent, impartial and objective investigation as quickly as possible. Those carrying out the investigation will not be connected with the allegation in any way. An investigation will be carried out quickly, sensitively and with due respect for the rights of both you and the alleged perpetrator.
- Where your complaint is about someone other than a volunteer, such as a participant, supplier, or visitor, we will consider what action may be appropriate to protect you (and anyone else involved) pending the outcome of the investigation, bearing in mind the needs of our business and the rights of that person. We will try to discuss the matter with the third party where appropriate.
- The investigation will involve interviews with the person against whom you are making the complaint and any other relevant witnesses. The alleged perpetrator will be given full details of the nature of the complaint and will be given the opportunity to respond. The investigation may also need to examine relevant documents, including emails and other evidence.
- Strict confidentiality will be maintained throughout the investigation into the allegation. Where it is necessary to interview witnesses, the importance of confidentiality will be emphasised to them.
- When the investigation has been completed, you will be informed whether or not your allegation is considered to be well-founded.
- If the allegation is well-founded, disciplinary action may be taken against the person alleged to have committed the behaviour you are complaining about and, depending on the circumstances and the seriousness of the complaint, so far as it is within Limmud’s power to do so.
- If the allegation is found to be not well-founded, consideration may be given to whether it is necessary to transfer or reschedule the work of both or either party, in cases where it would not be appropriate for either of you to continue to work in close proximity to each other.
- Limmud takes these matters very seriously. However, malicious complaints can have a serious and detrimental effect upon a volunteer or member of staff and the workplace or event team dynamic generally. Any unwarranted allegation of harassment or other misconduct made in bad faith may be dealt with in the same way as above. We are sure that all volunteers and staff appreciate that this is necessary to protect the integrity of this policy.