Workplace Policy

Last Updated: 23 November 2019

Commitment to a safe, respectful and inclusive workplace in the Forest Ecology Lab at UC Berkeley. 

“We share a commitment to preventing, detecting, and addressing barriers to a productive and positive environment for studying, working, and living.”

The Forest Ecology Lab (Supervisor: John J. Battles) at the University of California Berkeley (UCB) is committed to maintaining a vibrant and inclusive academic environment that is safe and free of harassment[1] and other forms of discrimination. All faculty, students, and staff are expected to conduct their work with consideration for the barriers that might affect a colleague’s ability to work across the full range of their tasks. Mindfulness and respect are the foundation of an inclusive work environment. Open communication with one another and with supervisors that raises awareness is essential to preventing many interpersonal conflicts that affect members’ ability to thrive at work. 

Field research at remote sites presents unique challenges given close quarters, varied living conditions (e.g., camping, bunk houses), and limited access to institutional resources. Extra care must be taken to ensure that all members of the field crew are comfortable with the living/working conditions beforehand, and that they understand expected norms of behavior. Field crew leaders are expected to develop a community agreement with all crew members to establish the needs and expected behavior of every person to have a safe and productive field campaign. Prior to every field campaign, the crew leader will review field safety and accommodation plans with the Principal Investigator. The plan will be shared with all crew members prior to start of the field campaign.

Anyone who feels that they have been harassed or experienced discrimination in any way or who has witnessed inappropriate behavior is encouraged to discuss the incident or behavior with a colleague or supervisor (see reporting policy below). In the event that a lab member is being harassed by their direct supervisor, the member is advised to report the issue to the supervisor’s manager or a colleague. Collaborators from other UC Berkeley labs, cooperating universities, and research agencies are expected to abide by the same workplace safety and sensitivity policies. The Forest Ecology Lab also maintains an anonymous “comment box” in both labs to share concerns or complaints.

Lab climate and reporting policy. Evidence points to numerous disincentives for reporting sexual violence and sexual harassment (SVSH). Reporters often incur both subtle and overt negative social repercussions for speaking up. These negative consequences of reporting SVSH are part of an imbalanced power dynamic that encourages silence and concealment of harassment.[2] Anyone reporting or discussing harassment has a right to communicate their experiences free from negative social repercussions and retaliatory dynamics. Every lab member has the responsibility to uphold this right and ensure an inclusive, respectful, and supportive environment for all. Though we strive to create a safe environment for reporting SVSH, we recognize that those experiencing SVSH have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to report it. Delayed reporting or non-reporting will be understood in the context of the complex costs and benefits that those experiencing SVSH must weigh. The onus of creating an inclusive and harassment-free lab culture lies not on reporters, but on the supervisor and lab members to proactively and continually evaluate their own actions and behavior to ensure they honor this commitment.

In regard to SVSH, all lab members with supervisory roles are considered “responsible employees” by UC Berkeley and are required to notify the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) if they receive information regarding potential violations of UCB’s SVSH policies. Please see this link for more information: SVSH policy. The lines of reporting for all supervisors in the Forest Ecology Lab are listed in this Google sheet: Forest Ecology Lab Reporting Lines. Concerns should be addressed to direct supervisors. For cases where the complaint involves the direct supervisor, concerns can be lodged with the supervisor’s boss and/or the OHPD (Link to OPHD). UCB also maintains confidential resources that provide support to anyone impacted by sexual violence and/or sexual harassment without reporting responsibilities (Confidential Resources).

[1] The definition of harassment according to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission can be found here: Definition.

[2] Whitley, L. and Page, T. “Sexism at the Centre: Locating the Problem of Sexual harassment.” New Formations 86.86 (2015): 34–53.