Harassment Policy and Code of Conduct

Updated: 10/19/2020

Code of Conduct

Harassment & Discrimination Prevention Policy/Expected Code of Conduct

ITW welcomes people from all backgrounds, regardless of creed, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, age, or body type. As such, ITW at its yearly ThrillerFest event as well as other ITW-sponsored events, prohibits discrimination and harassment based on these and all other factors.  We expect our members and attendees to follow a code of conduct that promotes these values.

Harassment is inappropriate behavior that threatens, alarms, upsets or makes someone uncomfortable, or grossly rude behavior that does the same thing. Examples of such behavior may include, but are not limited to, verbal or written comments of a sexual or violent nature, unwanted attention, ethnic or racial slurs, bullying, following or stalking, and coercion of any kind.

This code of conduct applies to all aspects of ThrillerFest, such as registration, panels, meetings, book rooms, hospitality suites, websites, and social media accounts, as well as all official ThrillerFest events, such as receptions, breakfasts/lunches, ceremonies, auctions, and book signings. This code also applies to any other ITW-sponsored event. In addition, if complaints are received about an individual’s conduct at a non-ITW event, those complaints will be considered in determining that person’s suitability to attend ITW events or hold ITW membership.

Any member or attendee of ITW-sponsored events asked to stop harassing behavior is expected to comply immediately.

Anyone who believes they have been subjected to discrimination, abuse, or harassment may report the incident to ITW for investigation, following the procedures set out below.

ITW’s Pledge Regarding the Code of Conduct

International Thriller Writers is committed to providing a safe and welcoming community free from discrimination and harassment. This entails that ITW members and attendees of ITW-sponsored events act with courtesy and respect toward one another, staff, service providers, speakers, media, and event participants.


Harassment in any form is strictly prohibited. Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, creed, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Harassment will be considered punishable if the conduct creates an environment that is intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name-calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, and offensive objects or pictures.

Sexual Harassment

As with any type of harassment, in sexual harassment, both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Sexual harassment can be verbal, nonverbal, or physical. This includes, but is not limited to, sexual innuendoes and jokes, inappropriate sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, leering, whistling, obscene gestures, unwanted physical contact, other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, or assault.

How to Report Incidents of Harassment or Inappropriate Behavior

Any ITW member or ITW-sponsored event attendee who believes they have experienced or witnessed harassment or other behavior that breaches this Code of Conduct should promptly report the incident by using the form on our website, by contacting the ITW President or the Board of Directors, or, at ITW-sponsored events, finding a member of the Safety/Security Team. We will endeavour to keep all reports as confidential as the circumstances allow.

Investigative Procedures

Upon receipt of a report of harassment or breaches in the code of conduct, ITW will begin a fair and unbiased investigation that will be carried out in a timely fashion. ITW offers both formal and informal processes for resolving complaints that fall under the Code of Conduct.  The full investigation and adjudication procedure can be found here.  Depending on the circumstances, this investigation may be conducted by the Safety & Security Committee, or by a professional trained in investigative procedures, or ITW’s legal counsel.

Both the complainant and the subject of the complaint will be notified as investigative procedures are undertaken, as well as being given the opportunity to provide evidence. For more, both parties can see the Survivor’s Bill of Rights here.

At the end of an investigation, but before a final decision on outcome is made, complainants will be allowed to provide a Victim Impact Statement, if desired.

Confidentiality & Transparency

Disclosures will be made only as needed. ITW will protect the confidentiality of complainants or subjects to the extent our procedures will allow, only contacting those individuals required for the investigation and not disclosing names or details of the incident to the public (unless the incident itself was public, such as during a conference panel, a web-based class, etc.). Individuals reporting may consent in writing to have their identity disclosed as well as the information of their complaint shared with other professional publishing associations or investigative teams.

All complainants and subjects should be aware there are a multitude of legal means to compel ITW to produce information related to a complaint which ITW has no control over.

If the investigation finds that the report has merit and a breach in the Code of Conduct has occurred, ITW’s Board of Directors, with guidance from legal counsel and the Safety and Security Committee, will determine any disciplinary action. If one of the members of these boards/committees are the subject of the complaint, ITW’s legal counsel will find a suitable alternative.

The investigation and other procedures will be carried out with as much transparency as possible regarding those directly involved and as allowed by law/under guidance of legal counsel, including, but not limited to, the inclusion of new witnesses, when an investigation is deemed complete, and the expected timeline for decision-making.


Potential remedies include, but are not limited to, temporary and/or permanent exclusion from ThrillerFest events without refund, suspension from events, ITW membership suspension, and/or expulsion from ITW membership. Interim action can be taken pending the completion of an investigation and final outcome.

In the event that the names of persons involved become public for any reasons (such as the breach happening during a public event or a streamed class, legal proceedings are initiated, etc.) ITW may comment publicly.


Please reach out to kimberleyhowe@thrillerwriters.org if you have any questions or you would like to make a complaint.