Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Code of Conduct

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is more than a workplace or a week-long festival. It is a year-round community that connects people of diverse backgrounds, experiences and identities across the country- and across the globe- all united under the TOTCF mission of educating, advancing, and supporting the spirits and hospitality industry. 

The TOTCF community is made up of employees, volunteers, contractors, vendors, sponsors, committee members, presenters, judges, awardees, apprentices, event attendees, and other affiliates. All of these populations, at every level of the TOTCF community, play a part in creating a safe, supportive, and professional environment, both in person and online. Every member of our community deserves to feel safe and supported, whether attending one event or involved in organization leadership. TOTCF has developed this Community Harassment & Misconduct policy to affirm our commitment to maintaining a safe and respectful environment for all. 

TOTCF is dedicated to providing a positive experience for everyone, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, or national origin. As TOTCF community members, we respect, value, and celebrate the unique attributes, characteristics, and perspectives that make each person who they are. Diversity and inclusion are essential to the mission of TOTCF, and these values are at the forefront of all TOTCF actions and events. We respectfully expect and require our stakeholders, partners, and participants to reflect and embrace these core values.

While certain behaviors are prohibited outright under this policy, others can depend on the nature of the situation, relationship between the involved parties, and the perception of the person on the receiving end. We have identified key conduct expectations to help guide your actions and ensure that all community members act in accordance with the mission, values, and expectations of TOTCF.

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Educate the community about misconduct
  • Outline key reporting mechanisms
  • Provide contact information for key individuals involved in the reporting and response process
  • Describe the response process including the investigation into misconduct 
  • Provide information on victim support and resources 

COMMUNITY-WIDE POLICIES

SCOPE OF POLICY

TOTCF may investigate any report of harassment or misconduct made against:

  • Any employee acting in their official capacity as a part of TOTCF 
  • Any volunteer, independent contractor, or sponsor acting in their official capacity as a part of TOTCF 
  • Any member of the CAP during the extent of the program, including conduct in hotel rooms, service areas, and formal and informal meeting spaces throughout Tales of the Cocktail® New Orleans and Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour
  • Any member of the CAP program based on conduct related to the selection process of new and returning CAP members
  • Any member of the Grants, Education, or Spirited Awards Committees, as well as anyone serving as a Judge for any TOTCF-affiliated award or competition, based on conduct related to the selection process or the execution of such grant, presenter selection, or award
  • As well as any community member (employee, volunteer, independent contractor, committee member, panelist, moderator, awardee, or registered attendee) who violates the Community Harassment & Misconduct Policy at a TOTCF workplace or event 

Examples of reports that are outside of the TOTCF scope to investigate: 

  • Reports of misconduct made against the following individuals that occurred outside of a TOTCF workplace or event, whether in-person or virtual, unless the individual was otherwise acting in official TOTCF capacity:
    • Award applicants or awardees
    • Grants applicants or grantees
    • Seminar panelists or moderators
    • Third-party vendors or sponsors  
  • Reports of misconduct made when all involved parties are non-registered attendees at a TOTCF event
  • Reports of misconduct that occurred at events that were not sanctioned by TOTCF, such as any event that was not on the official Tales of the Cocktail® New Orleans calendar. These events are not affiliated with TOTCF and fall out of the scope of this policy. Reported incidents that occurred at events not sanctioned by TOTCF will only be investigated if the event took place during the week of Tales of the Cocktail® New Orleans AND the accused is a CAP member
  • Reports of misconduct that involve the accused individual’s use of their own personal social media account or online platforms not related to TOTCF, unless they are posting content to a TOTCF-affiliated account or using the account to conduct responsibilities related to their role within TOTCF

To be clear – misconduct outside of the scope of a TOTCF investigation does not mean that the misconduct did not happen or that the behavior was acceptable. We want to encourage victims to report and to access available support resources (whether or not they report to TOTCF). Please see the section Victim Resources and Support Services for more information on accessing victim support resources. 

KEY CONDUCT EXPECTATIONS

  1. Be aware of and uphold the personal boundaries of others 
  2. Be mindful of power dynamics
  3. Uphold professional standards 

PERSONAL BOUNDARIES

Personal boundaries are the individual physical, conversational, sexual, emotional, and digital limits that determine what feels comfortable or uncomfortable. We each have different boundaries that are tied to our histories, experiences, values, and relationships. 

All TOTCF community members should:

  • Encourage communication of boundaries
  • Uphold boundaries
  • Ask for consent (particularly for any type of physical touch whether sexual in nature or not)
  • Accept responsibility for the impact of your actions and choices 

POWER DYNAMICS

Because TOTCF community members have different levels of authority, this can create imbalances of power that can play out in the workplace, at events, and when fulfilling TOTCF responsibilities. It is important to be mindful of the resulting power dynamics and how these can lead to abuses in power and unsafe situations. 

TOTCF community members should:

  • Consider the ways that your role may have power over other community members (ex. position status, seniority, etc.)
  • Use your influence and specific roles to promote healthy and supportive environments at all times
  • View leadership positions and speaking engagements as an opportunity to serve and uplift the TOTCF community at large, as well as to grow professionally

PROFESSIONALISM

As members of TOTCF, you are representatives of the TOTCF community and the spirits and hospitality industry at large. Events and positions affiliated with TOTCF are valuable opportunities for spirits industry professionals and cocktail enthusiasts to learn, network, and grow professionally. As such, TOTCF community members are expected to uphold professional standards at TOTCF workplaces, all in-person and virtual TOTCF events, and when acting in their respective TOTCF roles. 

TOTCF community members should:

  • Support the values and mission of TOTCF
  • Communicate in a professional, respectful, and courteous manner with all community members
  • Refrain from engaging in inappropriate behavior
  • Build positive relationships with others

USE OF ALCOHOL

Due to the nature of our business, casual use of alcohol is permitted, however; it is imperative that team members keep in mind our personal conduct, safety and core values. TOTCF promotes responsible decision-making around the use of alcohol by adults of legal age in the TOTCF workplace and at TOTCF events. Community members at TOTCF workplaces and events are expected not to consume alcohol at a level that may impair their judgement and impact their interactions with others. 

The use or influence of alcohol will not excuse responsibility for a conduct violation. 

  • The use of alcohol does not negate the responsibility for individuals to follow the conduct expectations outlined in this policy, including the responsibility to obtain consent when pursuing sexual activity. An investigation will address issues of capacity and consent when alcohol is involved. 
  • Any TOTCF community member working impaired due to use of alcohol or other illicit drugs or controlled substances may be subjected to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal, expulsion, and/or referral for prosecution.

APPLYING THE CONDUCT EXPECTATIONS

Making good decisions and ethical choices builds trust between each of us and the community members we interact with. These Conduct Expectations can serve as a guide to help you make good decisions and navigate complex situations. 

When faced with a difficult decision or situation within the TOTCF community, consider the following questions:

  • Is the decision or action consistent with the spirit of the TOTCF mission, Conduct Expectations, Community Harassment & Misconduct Policy, and any other TOTCF policies and regulations?
  • Does the decision or action break any regional or national laws? 
  • Who might be affected by this decision or course of action?
  • Would additional advice or expertise help? 
  • If the decision was made public, would I feel comfortable explaining it to community members, colleagues or investigators?
  • If I pursue this decision or course of action, would I be comfortable with the example I am setting for other community members?
  • Would this decision or action benefit the community as a whole, and not just a certain individual or group?

If you need additional guidance, contact TOTCF leadership to discuss your concerns, such as a manager, committee leader, TOTCF coordinator, CAP White Coat, or TOTCF Chief of Staff. 

DEFINITIONS 

PROHIBITED CONDUCT 

The following list illustrates behaviors which are deemed unacceptable under this Policy. This list is not all-inclusive, but merely indicates the types of actions, both in-person and online, that are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion from an event and termination of employment or position of leadership. By providing these examples, TOTCF in no way restricts its legal discretion to terminate employment, contractual relationships, or access to any event(s). TOTCF reserves the right to remove any participant or attendee at a TOTCF event with no refund at any time for any reason. 

  • Discrimination. Unjust or prejudicial treatment that is based upon race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, national origin, genetic information, or any other protected class.
  • Harassment. Harassment is any unwelcome and/or offensive treatment or conduct (verbal, written, physical, psychological, or visual) that is based upon race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, national origin, genetic information, or any other protected class.
  • Intimidation. Intimidation includes any action (verbal, written, physical, psychological, or visual) which is intended to control or cause serious harm to oneself or others, or damage to property. This can include, but is not limited to, abusive behavior toward authority, intimidating or harassing behavior, and threats.
  • Online harassment. Online harassment is harassment that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Online harassment can occur through SMS, text, and apps, or online in social media or forums where people can view, participate in, or share content. Online harassment includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or private content about someone else. 
  • Retaliation. Actions taken against an individual because the individual has opposed an act or practice, or because such individual made a report, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing.
  • Sexual exploitation. Defined as taking sexual advantage of another person without consent, including, but not limited to, (1) causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person in order to gain a sexual advantage, (2) causing the prostitution of another person, (3) recording, photographing or sharing identifiable images of private sexual activity or the intimate parts of another person, (4) allowing third parties to observe private sexual acts, (5) engaging in voyeurism, or (6) knowingly or recklessly exposing another person to a significant risk of sexually transmitted infection, including HIV.
  • Sexual violence. Includes any non-consensual sexual interaction. While many of us think of sexual assault when we hear “sexual violence,” the term is much broader than that. It also includes behaviors such as: sexual harassment in a workplace or on the street, sexual abuse, stalking, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, or manipulation for future abuse.
  • Unwelcome physical contact. Touching a person without their permission. Physical contact without affirmative consent is not acceptable.

SERIOUS MISCONDUCT 

Serious misconduct refers to any allegation that, if substantiated, would likely result in termination or permanent exclusion from participation in TOTCF events, opportunities, and leadership positions. 

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Threats of physical violence or physical violence of any kind 
  • Sexual assault and rape
  • Any conduct that compromises the safety of the organization and its community 

Due to the complexities of investigating incidents of serious misconduct, TOTCF has partnered with an external investigator to ensure that all inquiries are handled in a fair and equitable manner. (See External Investigations below). 

OTHER KEY DEFINITIONS 

  • TOTCF Community Member. All TOTCF employees, volunteers, contractors, vendors, affiliates, sponsors, committee members, panelists, moderators, judges, awardees, apprentices, and event attendees, whether at an in-person or virtual event. 
  • Acting in Official TOTCF Capacity. A TOTCF community member is acting in official TOTCF capacity when they are serving in their TOTCF role, fulfilling responsibilities related to their TOTCF role, or representing TOTCF at a meeting or event. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • An employee completing work for TOTCF
    • Any community member working or volunteering at a TOTCF workplace or event, including panelists and moderators, contractors, vendors, and sponsors
    • Any community member representing TOTCF or speaking on behalf of TOTCF at a TOTCF-affiliated or external meeting or event
    • Any community member competing in or attending a competition, event, or trip sponsored by TOTCF
    • Any community member representing TOTCF online, whether posting TOTCF watermarked images or discussing their role in regards to TOTCF
    • Committee Members while representing TOTCF at an event or during their involvement in the selection process or the execution of a grant, presenter selection, or award
    • Cocktail Apprentice Program (CAP) members while representing TOTCF at an event or during their involvement in the selection process for new or returning CAPs
  • TOTCF Workplace or Event. Location where TOTCF activities are being conducted. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • TOTCF workplace/office locations, including alternative spaces organized and/or paid for by the organization
    • Venues of events organized or sponsored by TOTCF during the time of the event, including:
      • Tales of the Cocktail® New Orleans 
      • Tales of the Cocktail® on Tour
      • Any TOTCF sponsored educational, cultural and industry seminars
      • Co-sponsored events and competitions
    • Virtual, digital, and social media forums and platforms affiliated with TOTCF, including:
      • Email and mailing lists
      • Social media
      • Virtual meetings
      • Virtual collaboration platforms
  • Consent. An agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent requires three key components:
    • Affirmative: Participants expressed overt actions or words indicating their agreement
    • Freely given: Consent was offered of the person’s own free will, without being induced by fraud, coercion, violence, or threat of violence
    • Capacity: Participants’ ability to make an informed and rational decision to consent. Examples of some factors that may contribute to someone’s capacity to consent include:
      • Age
      • Developmental disability or other form of mental incapacitation, such as a traumatic brain injury
      • Incapacitation due to intoxication
      • Physical disability
      • Power dynamics and relationship between perpetrator and victim
      • Unconsciousness, such as from sleep, sedation, or physical trauma
      • Vulnerable adults, such as the elderly, ill, or those dependent on others for care

*Consent can be revoked at any time.

  • Incapacitation due to intoxication. A person is not incapacitated merely because they have been drinking or using drugs. Criteria for determining if someone is incapacitated focus on whether a person has the physical and/or mental ability to make informed, rational judgments and decisions, rather than medical or technical definitions. Although every individual may manifest signs of incapacitation differently, typical signs include slurred or incomprehensible speech, unsteady gait, combativeness, emotional volatility, vomiting, or incontinence. A person who is incapacitated may not be able to understand some or all of the following questions: “Do you know where you are?”; “Do you know how you got here?”; “Do you know what is happening?”; “Do you know who you are with?”
  • Parties Involved. The individuals accused of misconduct as well as the individuals that experienced or were affected by the misconduct. 
  • Victim. Includes any person affected by the incident of misconduct. This person may or may not have been the initial reporter. 
  • Accused. The individual alleged to have violated the policy.
  • Confidential Information. Information shared with others on a need-to-know basis, i.e., on a limited basis for the purpose of conducting a thorough investigation. Any sensitive information collected as a part of an investigation into harassment or misconduct will be treated as confidential. 

RESPONSE PROCESS 

If the incident is an emergency or time-sensitive, please contact 911 or local police. If applicable, the New Orleans Police Department can be reached at (504) 821-2222.  

STATEMENT OF COMMUNITY MEMBER’S RIGHTS

TOTCF is committed to providing support and assistance to members of the TOTCF community affected by incidents of misconduct at TOTCF workplaces or events. All TOTCF community members have the right to:

  • Decide whether or not to report a violation to TOTCF 
  • Have reports of misconduct and retaliation treated seriously 
  • Be treated with dignity, respect and compassion
  • Be protected from retaliation by TOTCF leadership, community members, and the accused
  • Receive information from TOTCF about internal and external victim services
  • Decide whether or not to participate in TOTCF’s internal conduct process
  • Participate in an internal conduct process that is fair, impartial and that provides adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard
  • Appeal the determination made by the Board 
  • Receive notification, in writing, of the outcome of the internal process, including the investigation, any imposed sanctions, and any appeal decisions
  • Make a report to local law enforcement and participate in criminal justice processes

REPORTING

We encourage anyone who feels that this Community Harassment & Misconduct Policy has been violated to submit a complaint to TOTCF. Complaints can be submitted online, or made directly to TOTCF Chief of Staff and Misconduct Prevention & Response Coordinator, Eileen Wayner, by phone by email at eileen@talesofthecocktail.org.  

THIRD-PARTY REPORTS

TOTCF encourages those who have witnessed or heard about an incident of harassment or misconduct to report these incidents to TOTCF through the channels noted above. TOTCF’s ability to respond to a third-party report may be limited by the information provided. Additionally, information regarding the victim and investigation will be kept confidential. TOTCF will not follow-up with a third-party reporting individual unless necessary within the needs of a related investigation.

ANONYMOUS REPORTS

Anonymous reports can be made through the TOTCF Code of Conduct Violation Form. TOTCF will evaluate an anonymous report to the best of their ability, but may or may not be able to determine if there was a violation of the policy based on the information provided. 

However, TOTCF’s priority is to support victims. Any individual that submits an anonymous report will be directed to review the Victim Resources and Support Services section of this Policy.

CONFIDENTIALITY

In any report, investigation, or resolution regarding harassment or misconduct every effort will be made to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the individuals involved to the extent possible within the legitimate needs of the investigation and any necessary steps to end the conduct, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.

INVESTIGATIONS

Violations of this policy will be reported to the TOTCF Misconduct Prevention & Response Coordinator, Eileen Wayner. Upon receipt of a credible allegation of harassment or misconduct, TOTCF will determine the appropriate investigation process. 

INVESTIGATION OPTIONS

Depending on the circumstances of the report, TOTCF may pursue one of the following investigatory options:

External Investigations

TOTCF has partnered with an external, third-party to conduct investigations in complex scenarios. 

  • This includes any report of serious misconduct, or when an allegation of misconduct is made against a member of the TOTCF Board or Leadership Team. 

TOTCF reserves the right to utilize an external investigator in any matter as deemed appropriate by the organization. 

The investigator is responsible for collecting relevant information about the incident, interviewing the parties involved as well as witnesses, and submitting a recommendation to TOTCF as to whether or not the report can be substantiated. 

Internal Investigations 

When appropriate, TOTCF will conduct an internal investigation into violations of this policy. 

  • This includes any report of misconduct that is likely to result in corrective action rather than termination or dismissal. 

Upon receipt of a report for internal investigation, TOTCF will establish a response team that ensures a fair and equitable process for all parties involved. In general, this will involve: 

  • Lead investigator who is able to impartially collect and review information related to the misconduct
  • Individual responsible for determining whether or not a violation of the policy occurred based on the information collected during the investigation
  • Individual responsible for recommending a sanction based on the violation that occurred. 
  • Support specialist who is able to provide information on internal and external resources available to the victim

Every member of this response team will be: 

  • Trained to execute the response process 
  • Impartial 

Other

There may be situations in which TOTCF does not pursue an investigation into a report of misconduct. This may include:

  • Reports that fall outside of the scope of this policy
  • Reports of misconduct when no question of fact exists [Optional language: For example, if both parties agree on the course of events that led to the report of misconduct, TOTCF does not have to execute an investigation and may move on to determine if the conduct violated the policy and what, if any, sanction may be imposed.]
  • Incidents that require immediate action or sanction [Optional language: For example, TOTCF reserves the right to remove any individual from a TOTCF event for any reason.]

Nothing in this policy creates an obligation for TOTCF to investigate any individual report. The information included is intended to create awareness of TOTCF investigation processes.

SUSPENSION

The accused individual may be temporarily suspended from their position within TOTCF during the investigation. If the investigation determines that this policy was violated, the accused may be subject to sanctions as up to and including expulsion from an event and termination of employment or position of leadership.

NOTIFICATION

All parties involved in the complaint of misconduct will receive notification on the format of the investigation as well as contact information for those responsible for executing the investigatory process. 

SANCTIONS

TOTCF will determine the appropriate sanction for any violation of this Policy on a case-by-case basis. All decisions will be made by TOTCF Leadership in conjunction with the Board. 

TOTCF community members found to have committed Policy violations will be subject to penalties that may include:

  • Immediate loss of employment or leadership positions they may hold with TOTCF (e.g. White Coat, Spirited Awards Judge, committee member, or committee chair)
  • Loss of any speaking opportunities or awards granted to them by TOTCF (e.g. panelist, moderator, grantee, Spirited Awards) 
  • Future ineligibility to hold such position(s) or receive such awards 
  • Ineligibility to participate in any future TOTCF events or competitions 

VICTIM RESOURCES AND SUPPORT SERVICES

AMNESTY POLICY

TOTCF encourages community members to report violations of this policy. TOTCF recognizes that victims of harassment or misconduct who have been drinking alcohol at the time that misconduct occurred may be hesitant to report these incidents due to fear of potential consequences for their own conduct. Any individual who reports harassment or misconduct to TOTCF, either as a victim or third-party witness, will not be subject to disciplinary action for their own minor policy violations at or near the time that the misconduct occurred, provided that any such violations did not place the health or safety of any other person at risk. For example, if an individual working at Tales of the Cocktail® New Orleans experiences sexual violence while intoxicated, they will not be subject to disciplinary action for violating any conduct expectations around the use of alcohol. 

Our goal is to create safer communities and encourage individuals to report inappropriate behaviors.

EXTERNAL RESOURCES 

HOTLINES

National Sexual Assault Hotline (NSAH)

RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline, which has helped more than 3 million people since 1994. The hotline is available by phone (800.656.HOPE) and online chat in English and Spanish (www.rainn.org/es). The service is free, confidential, and available 24/7/365.

VictimConnect Resource Center

This referral helpline run by the National Center for Victims of Crime provides victims and their loved ones with information regarding their rights and options and assistance locating services for reporting a crime, available Monday through Friday from 8:30am–7:30pm ET. 

New Orleans Family Justice Center

Provides free services to survivors of sexual violence in New Orleans, including individual and group therapy, medical accompaniment, criminal justice advocacy and crisis support. 

  • Website: nofjc.org
  • Office number: (504)592-4005
  • 24-hour crisis hotline: (504)866-9554

National Organization for Victim Assistance

NOVA advocates connect crime victims to services and resources through their helpline, 9am- 5pm ET Monday through Friday. 

RESOURCE DIRECTORIES AND DATABASES

Directory of Local Service Providers

Individuals can search a network of 1,100 sexual assault service providers to find local resources for victims of sexual violence, such as advocacy, medical accompaniment, and counseling services.

Laws in Your State

Searchable database and guide to the laws around sexual violence in each state, including legal definitions of rape, statute of limitations for specific crimes, and mandatory reporting requirements.

Directory of Crime Victim Services

Search among 10,000 victim service programs and organizations by location, type of victimization, service needed, and agency type to find victim resources, including legal services, advocacy, crisis counseling, and forensic exams.

Help for Crime Victims: Helpline and Resources

The Office for Victims of Crime compiles information on their website on helplines and resources for victims of crime both nationally and internationally, including child abuse, elder abuse, and human trafficking.

*Information on TOTCF’s victim resources for employees and CAP members can be found below in the section on population-specific conduct expectations.

*This document is reviewed on an annual basis. TOTCF has the right to change and update the policy as needed.


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