JIKOJI CONFLICT RESOLUTION POLICY
SECTION 1: Harassment Free Environment
Jikoji is committed to providing an environment that is harassment free.
Each guest, term practitioner, staff member, sangha member, director of the corporation, officer, employee, volunteer and any person attending a Jikoji approved/sponsored activity (individually a “covered person” and collectively the “covered persons”).
Harassment can take many forms. It may consist of, but is not limited to, the following: words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation, physical contact, or violence. Harassment, therefore, does not have to be sexual in nature. Sexual harassment, because it is a very serious form of harassment, is more particularly described as follows: Unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; or other verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature where such conduct creates an intimidating environment or prevents an individual targeted by such conduct from effectively performing the duties of their position, or when such conduct is made a condition of employment, advancement, or compensation, either implicitly or explicitly. With respect all conduct that is characterized as “harassment” it is not the intent or the behavior by the offender that determines if harassment has occurred but it is the effect of such behavior on the victim from the perspective of the victim, provided that perception of such conduct is reasonable under the circumstances.
If a covered person who is targeted with such behavior is able to do so, without risk of an escalation of the conflict, personal danger or risk of retaliation, they are encouraged to tell the harasser, as clearly as possible, that the behavior is unwelcome. It should not be assumed that innuendos and indirect comments will be received and understood. If the behavior continues thereafter or if such direct communication creates a risk of retaliation, escalation or personal danger, the matter should be reported as in the following section.
Each covered person is responsible for helping keep Jikoji free of Harassment. If a covered person becomes aware of an incident of Harassment affecting any covered person, whether they are the victim, a witness to the incident of Harassment, or are told of the incident by another, there is a duty to report the incident to any one or more of the following persons:
(i) Any member of the Jikoji Management Group (the “JMG”), whose current
members are Jennifer Hohman, Hogan Martin, Jim Mills, Bryan Gaynor and Dan Zigmond;
(ii) Jikoji’s current legal counsel, Bryan Gaynor, attorney at law or his successor; or
(iii) Jikoji’s current Resident and Guiding Teacher, Michael Newhall and any person to whom he has delegated the responsibilities of Guiding teacher (currently Doug Jacobson).
When one of us becomes aware of an alleged act of Harassment and the JMG has been notified and it will conduct an initial investigation by interviewing and writing down the statement of the person who has reported the incident. Based on this statement, if the JMG is of the opinion that the allegation of Harassment is reasonably credible, the matter will be either be reported to Jikoji's legal counsel for further investigation or the matter will be investigated by the JMG itself. In either event, the investigation will proceed on the following basis:
(i) The victim of the alleged Harassment and the person reporting the incident, (if they are not the same person), will be interviewed;
(ii) If the person who was harassed is unwilling to participate in the interview
process, the matter will be investigated by interviewing other witnesses to the incident;
(iii) If, based on the investigation, the facts do not support a credible claim of Harassment, the following will occur:
(a) That opinion will be communicated to the victim (if the victim is the source of the incident report) and that opinion will state that no action will be taken by Jikoji.
(b) If someone other than the victim is the source of the incident report, such person will be notified that no action will be taken by Jikoji;
(iv) If it is determined that the facts support a credible claim of Harassment, the following will occur:
(a) That opinion will be communicated to the JMG and to the victim (if the victim is the source of the complaint);
(b) The person accused of Harassment will be interviewed by one of the following as shall be determined by the JMG: Legal counsel; A member of the JMG; or, A non-Jikoji related third party. Based on that interview if the claim is no longer considered credible, the victim will be notified and the notice will be in the form of a written statement of the basis of the determination and an explanation as to why no further action will be taken;
c) If the claim is determined to be credible after the interview with the person accused of Harassment and provided such conduct is determined not to be criminal in nature, the matter will be referred to the JMG and it will determine what action will be taken and its decision on the matter including the action that will be taken will be communicated to the victim and the person who has engaged in Harrassment. If it is warranted under the facts, as determined by the JMG, the matter may also be reported to JIkoji’s insurance carrier and to the Jikoji Board of Directors. In the event the behavior is determined by the JMG to constitute a crime, the matter will be reported promptly to law enforcement.
(v) The JMG has the following authority with respect a person it determines to have harassed a covered person and it may take such action as it shall determine to be appropriate, including, but not limited to:
(a) It may require such person to participate in a course of therapy with a professional who has skill and expertise and therefore able to address the behavior with a reasonable probability of eliminating the likelihood of its recurrence. Such course of therapy would be at such person’s sole cost and expense;
(b) It may require such person to leave the Jikoji property permanently or for such term as it determines to be appropriate; or
(c) It may take such other action as it shall determine to be appropriate under the circumstances.
(vi) The determination by the JMG under its authority of the appropriate action to be taken in connection with a Harassment incident shall be reported to the Jikoji Board of Directors. In the event the Board unanimously disapproves of the action within 30-days of its receipt of the report, the matter shall be referred back to the JMG for reconsideration and a new decision shall be made, which decision shall be a final, binding decision. If the Board fails to act within the 30-day period, the Board is deemed to have waived any objection to the proposed action.
Jikoji, including all persons to whom a violation of this Harassment Policy has been reported and persons who have become aware of a Harassment complaint, must maintain confidentiality, to the extent possible given the need to independently investigate the matter while at the same time protecting the victim. All complaints shall be considered confidential to the maximum extent possible by the person making the complaint and those receiving the complaint to protect the rights of the complainer and the alleged harasser. However, if an event of harassment is established to the satisfaction of the JMG appropriate action will be taken against the person responsible for the Harassment as set forth above.
The JMG and the members thereof, Jikoji board of directors and each director, Jikoji officers, Jikoji staff members and Jikoji employees may not retaliate against any victim or witness who reports a violation of this Harassment Policy. Any person who believes that they have experienced retaliation should report the matter to the JMG, the Resident Teacher or the Chairperson of the JIkoji Board of Directors. Any allegation of retaliation will be fully and promptly investigated and based on that investigation appropriate action may be taken by the JMG, unless it is accused of retaliation, in which event the matter will be invested by and appropriate action will be taken by the Board of Directors.
SECTION 2: Guidelines For Resolving Conflicts and Disagreements
The conflict resolution suggestions that follow are intended to give everyone involved in a dispute a chance to be fully heard in an environment of respect, fairness, and kindness. We make these suggestions with the understanding that, despite our differences, we share and meet in the identity of our Buddha nature.
We encourage parties in conflict, when possible, to talk with each other, doing so always with kindness.
If a Sangha member feels unfairly treated by one or more other members, that member is encouraged to discuss the situation with the other members involved; if multiple members feel themselves unfairly treated by one or more other members, those members are likewise encouraged to discuss the situation with the other members involved.
Compromise will often be essential in resolving conflict and we welcome it whenever possible. We also believe that no one should ever feel pressured or manipulated into a difficult or uncomfortable agreement or arrangement. While we deeply esteem peace and tranquility within our Sangha, we also recognize that resolving a conflict or problematic community issue is not the same as ignoring it or silencing complaint for an illusory or fragile peace. We understand that the use of Buddhist precepts and concepts to manipulate or exploit others violates the 10th Essential Precept-- to not abuse the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha -- and would itself be an ethics violation.
Step 1 - Talking and Listening
A. Stating the Facts:
Each party has an opportunity to state the facts of what happened, trying to be as objective as possible. The two parties can then agree or disagree as to the facts of their conflict. While agreement on the facts is an essential first step in resolving a conflict, factual agreement alone may not be enough for the parties to effectively reconcile.
In situations where conflict persists despite factual agreement, or where no factual agreement can be found, the parties are encouraged to consider, as may be appropriate, the following alternatives:
B. Possible Misunderstanding:
If there is no agreement on the facts, the conflict may yet be resolved if either or both parties can accept that the other party simply perceived things differently, that the conflict was a misunderstanding that can be acknowledged by all and gotten beyond. Uncovering points of misunderstanding can be facilitated by each party restating what the other has said, each assessing if the restatement was accurate and complete, and clarifying as necessary. Perhaps the recognition of a misunderstanding is enough to help resolve the conflict.
C. Outside Parties:
If there is a disagreement on the facts that cannot be cleared up through discussion or attributed to misunderstanding, an outside party or parties may be helpful. A mutually trusted outside party, by meeting individually with each side of the conflict, may be able to clear things up, avoiding the charged back and forth discussions that can conflate facts, emotions, and the needs of the persons who are in direct conflict.
If the General Conflict Resolution procedures in Step 1 - Talking and Listening do not resolve a grievance, additional steps are available, depending on whether the dispute is limited to members of the General Sangha, or involves members of Jikoji's Leadership & Clergy.
If no one involved in the conflict is in a leadership or clergy position, the following steps 2, 3 and 4 may be taken, if all parties agree:
Step 2: Advocates
Each party may select another trusted Sangha member as their advocate. Each party can explain their point of view to their advocate, and the two (or more) advocates will attempt to resolve the matter on behalf of, and if desired, in the presence of, the disputing parties.
Step 3: Select Conflict Resolution Technique
If the use of Advocates in Step 2 does not resolve a conflict or grievance the parties may choose a person trained in a mutually agreeable conflict resolution technique (e.g., mediation, non-violent communication, etc.) to assist them in resolving the conflict.
The JMG recommends the Conflict Resolution Center of Santa Cruz County (the “CRC”) for outside conflict resolution. CRC's fee is $125 for three hours, and they require that each party contributes a minimum of $25 each. Jikoji is prepared to assist with these fees as shall be determined by the JMG to be necessary and appropriate, on a case by case basis. As the Sangha continues to explore current and emerging conflict resolution techniques the parties may choose alternative methods of mediation, such as Non-Violent Communication or other methods of consensus building.
Step 4: Bring Issue to the Jikoji Management Group
If the above steps have either been unsuccessful in resolving a conflict, or were otherwise deemed inappropriate, and if the issue is unresolvable and disruptive to the ongoing peace and harmony of Jikoji and its Sangha, the issue may be brought to the Jikoji Management Group and such further steps to resolve the conflict as it deems appropriate, under its authority as described under Jikoji’s Harassment Free Environment Policy, will be taken.
For Leadership & Clergy
If the General Conflict Resolution procedures in Step 1 - Talking and Listening above (preferably with a neutral facilitator present) does not resolve conflict that involves one or more persons in leadership or clergy positions, the following steps are to be taken.
Step 2. Mediators
The JMG will maintain a list of trained mediators, both lay and ordained, who are familiar with the function and purpose of Soto Zen temples and sanghas, and who understand the issues that may arise. The JMG will select from this list one or more individuals to mediate and help resolve conflicts that involve members of the leadership or clergy. In the event the conflict involves a member or members of the JMG, such member(s) shall not participate in the selection process.
Step 3. JIkoji Management Group
If the use of Mediators in Step 2. Mediators does not resolve a conflict involving one or more persons in leadership or clergy positions, the matter will be taken up by the Jikoji Management Group. The determination by the JMG under of the appropriate action it recommends in connection with the dispute shall be reported to the JIkoji Board of Directors. In the event the Board unanimously disapproves of the proposed action within 30-days of its receipt of notice from the JMG, the matter shall be referred back to the JMG for reconsideration and a new decision shall be made, which decision shall be a final, binding decision. If the Board fails to act within the 30-day period, the Board is deemed to have waived any objection to the proposed action.