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Response to Ombudsperson Report

OMBP Recommendation #1NELA should include a neutral third party, or Ombudsperson, in all private conversations that do not take place in the view of public members at NELA events.  NELA should review this practice one year from the time that this report is published or after two Fleas.  The Ombudsperson will be involved in determining if NELA is capable, at that time, of having beneficial private conversations with concerned attendees, vendors, and participants.

NELA Response/Plan – NELA will put measures in place to have neutral third party person(s) available at the Winter and Summer Fleas.  This may be an Ombudsperson, a police officer or other designated person(s).   These other designated person(s) will be identified prior to the event and their information made available to attendees.   If you are interested in acting as an Ombudsperson or being available as a neutral third party, please contact chair@nelaonline.org.

OMBP Recommendation #2 NELA should intentionally seek out Vendor Liaisons and Presenter Liaisons. The individuals will be respected and well-known in the community. The existence of liaisons should be mentioned before a conversation begins to ensure that those who wish to have a neutral third party to be present will have the opportunity to do so. The public should be notified who these liaisons are and the system in place which ensures that said liaisons are easily reachable during events. An individual who wishes not to have a third-party present will be requested to sign a document stating so. If an individual refuse to sign a document, and refuses to speak regarding concerns of behavior, they may be subjected to the standing rules of the FFF ® available to all attendees before or upon arrival.

NELA Response/Plan – NELA will ask for volunteers from presenters and vendors, expected to be present at an event, to be available to act as a ‘Vendor Neutral’ or ‘Presenter Neutral’ party.  Our hope is to have multiple people available for each role in order to provide diversity which would allow a Vendor or Presenter to be most comfortable in a conversation, avoid conflicts of interest or to not overburden any one person.  This Neutral party list will be available at Programming HQ, from any member of the Board of Directors or Ops team.  If the offer to use a Neutral party, including a police office or an Ombudsperson, is declined, the request will be made to record the conversation in an effort to maintain an accurate record of and to ensure fairness to all persons involved in the conversation.  If the party does not agree to record the conversation, the Vendor or Presenter will be relieved of their duties but be welcome to remain at the event as an attendee unless they otherwise violate FFF rules which would require them to leave the event.

OMBP Recommendation #3NELA should list expectations and policies for the Vendors and Presenters on an accessible website. These expectations should include policies surrounding advertising and marketing items and events not originating from NELA.

NELA should publish guidelines and send them to presenters regarding what information can be included in their handouts. NELA reserves the right, and will enforce this right, to review handouts by every presenter before events. Presenters are expected to meet the stated deadline for handouts. An official recognized relationship with NELA as a presenter or vendor is not to be understood as an official recognized agreement for free advertisement at a NELA event.

NELA Response/Plan – The groundwork for guidelines of expectations and policies for presenters and vendors already exists, in the form of the contracts provided through email and/or at the event.   The Programming team and Vendor Coordinator will review and revise these guidelines for publication on the NELA and Fetish Flea websites no later than November 1st, 2019. 

OMBP Recommendation #4 -When NELA board and non-board leadership members speak to an attendee in a private room, the door shall be kept open ensuring that all individuals are aware they are free to leave. The door should not be blocked by anyone, and the party with the concern will be closest to the door allowing access. Individuals should be asked if they wish to close the door if there are attendees or staff in the area who are not involved in the situation. By acknowledging that there is staff in the area, and that they still wish to keep the door open, a release will need to be signed recognizing they may not have the confidentiality which can be provided by shutting the door. The Ombudsperson or Neutral Third Party will do their best, recognizing limitations, to keep the area free from those who are not essential to the situation. Individuals, who leave before resolution is found, may be subject to the standing rules of the FFF ® available to all attendees before or upon arrival.

NELA Response/Plan – When in a Private Room, NELA will make every effort to ensure that proper egress is available to the individual(s) involved in the conversation along with the option to have the door (if applicable) open or closed.  Our intention is to limit meeting attendees to only those who are essential to the situation and to have a document on hand which allows for recording everyone’s location within the room and whether the door remains open or closed. This document will include verbiage indicating the person’s choice as to whether any door(s) to remain open or closed along with the acknowledgement that the latter choice may result in reduced or lack of privacy and confidentiality. As stated in the Ombudsperson’s report, individuals who leave before resolution is found, may be subject to further action by the Board based upon the standing rules of the Fetish Fair Fleamarket (available in the event Program Book and on the Fetish Flea website).

OMBP Recommendation #5Individuals who report concerns around safety should not be persecuted for these actions. Anyone who want to provide photo evidence are instructed to reach out to Operations, the Ombudsperson, or Medical Emotional Care Support to dos so. If it is deemed that a photograph is able to be taken to document the concern, anyone should request to witness the photo being taken by the stated personnel to ensure photos and safety concerns are not tampered with. The Person(s) requesting for a safety concern to be documented should be forwarded photos if they wish to have them. In the event that a photograph is deemed an unacceptable method to document a safety concern, all parties involved should make note of said concern and convene to an area where it can, alternatively, be documented in writing and signed by those witnesses and staff. . Any individual who takes a photo on their own recognizance, without witness from above stated staff, will be subject to standing rules of the FFF ® regarding the photo policy in place.

NELA Response/Plan – Safety concerns of any nature should immediately be brought to the attention of the NELA Board of Directors, Ops team, or other Flea staff with a permanent badge.  Should the person reporting or investigating the safety concern wish to document said concern with photography, the photograph may not contain any persons or personally identifiable information (i.e, tattoos, jewelry, etc.) unless agreed upon by the person affected and that consent will be documented in writing. The person(s) reporting said concern will be asked to witness the documentation process and provided an electronic copy of the photographs taken upon request.  As noted above, “In the event that a photograph is deemed an unacceptable method to document a safety concern, all parties involved should make note of said concern and convene to an area where it can, alternatively, be documented in writing and signed by those witnesses and staff. . Any individual who takes a photo on their own recognizance, without witness from above stated staff, will be subject to standing rules of the FFF ® regarding the photo policy in place.”   Lastly, NELA will make every effort to protect reporters of safety concerns from personal exposure so long as the report is filed through established methods (i.e. not simply posted to social media) and retaliation by the NELA Board, in whole or in part, its officers or agents will be not be tolerated.

OMBP Recommendation #6 – Any equipment provided by NELA at their events should abide by proper safety configurations. No retaliation will be imposed on a presenter, vendor, or attendee who has shared a safety concern – We are not responsible for presenters who provide their own equipment.

NELA Response/Plan –   Presenters who utilize equipment provided by NELA will be required to sign off on the safety and viability of said equipment by the Programming deadline (approximately 30 days prior to the event).  NELA will provide detailed photographs as well as specification information from the manufacturer of the equipment which Presenters will use to make their decision.   Presenters who are not comfortable or disagree with the safety or viability of equipment made available by NELA may propose an alternate solution to carry out their class or demonstration and shall not be subjected to any retaliation. 

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