Sexual Assault

If you have been sexually assaulted, please seek help immediately. If you are in immediate harm or distress, call 911.

If you are unsure where to start, or want support from someone who understands your circumstance, contact Brave Step online or by calling (704) 361-5230.

Discrimination or Harassment off-stage

CATCh has a straight-forward policy that bars discrimination and harassment. Most of the policy is common sense and decency.

If you are the victim of harassment or discrimination, please contact our Respect & Equality Coordinator by emailing respect@CATCh.theater or use our online form.

Improv is the ultimate team art form.

Every exercise we learn, every warm-up we use, every precept we teach in 101 class and beyond strengthens this one idea: we, together, are what’s important. The art succeeds when we succeed in attaining this ideal.

We cannot be “we” without respect and equality.

We have policies which state emphatically that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated. These policies are important, yes.

And…

The Comedy Arts Theater of Charlotte (CATCh) community believes that it’s not enough to spell out how not to behave. Our community desires to go beyond simply trying to brush away the negativity of racism, misogyny, and the rest. We strive to be intentional in promoting the value, the impact, and the necessity of positive respect and equality among all performers.

To that end, this document is as much about the community we desire to be as much as it is about how to spot and report harassment and discrimination.

What it means to a positive, forward-thinking improv community will probably change over time. And that’s not only OK, it’s to be embraced. Because CATCh is not simply a “safe place” — it’s a place where you know we’ve all got your back.

Respect & Equality Coordinator

Jen Altizer

Jen is an actor/comedian originally from Virginia, which is not, as it were, solely for lovers. She started her comedy education at the Peoples Improv Theater in NYC, where she was fortunate to share the stage with many talented improvisors, including CATCh founder, Kevin Shimko. She has called Charlotte home for several years now, and has enjoyed watching the comedy community grow and evolve over the years. To support her cat children, Jen works as a project manager for a giant foodservice management company. In addition to appearing in the occasional play or two, Jen regularly performs with Now Are The Foxes and Robot Johnson Sketch Comedy. She is grateful for the opportunity to help the arts community grow through CATCh and is excited to see what the future holds for comedy in the southeast region.

Discrimination and Harassment Policy

If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination and/or harassment, please report it immediately.

Discrimination and harassment of employees, performers, students, clients, patrons, or anyone else associated with CATCh is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated.

This policy also strictly prohibits any retaliation against an individual who has complained about discrimination or harassment, or any retaliation against individuals for cooperating with an investigation of a harassment complaint.

Because CATCh takes allegations of discrimination and harassment seriously, we will respond promptly to any reports of harassment. Where it is determined that such inappropriate conduct has occurred, we will act promptly to eliminate the conduct and impose such corrective action as is necessary, including disciplinary action where appropriate.

Please note that while this policy sets forth our goals of promoting a theater that is free of harassment, the policy is not designed or intended to limit our authority to discipline or take remedial action for conduct which we deem unacceptable and regardless of whether that conduct satisfies the definition of harassment.

SCOPE

Under this policy, unlawful discriminatory and/or harassing conduct by anyone, whether in the theater, at assignments outside the theater, at theater-sponsored social functions, or elsewhere, will not be tolerated. Managers, instructors, and coaches must be diligent in preventing such conduct. This policy also applies to all persons involved in the operation of CATCh and prohibits discrimination and/or harassment by any employee of CATCh, as well as by any person doing business with or for the organization, including cast, directors, volunteers, outside vendors, business partners, customers, contractors, students, and all visitors to the theater.

For purposes of this policy, it shall be prohibited for any employee or agent of CATCh because of sex (gender), race, national origin, ancestry, color, religion, age, disability (handicap), genetic information, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation, to refuse to hire or employ any individual, or to bar or discharge from employment any individual, or to discriminate against any individual in compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges or employment, unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification.

In addition, it shall be prohibited for any employee or agent of CATCh to engage in verbal, pictorial or written abuse referencing sex (gender), race, national origin, ancestry, color, religion, age, disability (handicap), genetic information, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation, which is unwelcome and substantially interferes with an individual's employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

DEFINITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

"Sexual harassment" is defined as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

(a) submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment or as a basis for employment decisions; or,
(b) such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.

Under these definitions, direct or implied requests by a supervisor for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised job benefits such as favorable reviews, salary increases, promotions, increased benefits, or continued employment constitutes sexual harassment.

The legal definition of sexual harassment is broad. In addition to the above examples, other sexually oriented conduct, whether it is intended or not, that is unwelcome and has the effect of creating a workplace environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating, or humiliating to male or female workers may also constitute sexual harassment.

While it is not possible to list all those additional circumstances that may constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples of conduct which, if unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:

Unwelcome sexual advances-whether they involve physical touching or not;
Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life; comment on an individual’s body, comment about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess;
Displaying sexual suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons;
Unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or insulting comments;
Inquires into one’s sexual experiences; and,
Discussion of one’s sexual activities.

All employees should take special note that, as stated above, retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual harassment, or retaliation against individuals for cooperating with an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint is unlawful and will not be tolerated by this organization.

OTHER FORMS OF HARASSMENT.

In addition to sexual harassment, this policy prohibits any form unwelcome or otherwise offensive conduct, whether verbal, physical or visual, directed at a person based upon that person’s race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.

Harassment includes conduct that:

(a) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment;

(b) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or

(c) otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities.

Examples of prohibited harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory comments, slurs or unwanted comments and jokes;
  • Visual conduct such as derogatory posters, cartoons, drawings or gestures;
  • Physical conduct such as assault, blocking normal movement, restraint, touching or other physical interference with work directed at an individual;
  • Emails that contain offensive comments, jokes or visual images: or
  • Threats and demands to submit to certain non-work-related conduct or perform certain non-work-related actions in order to keep or get a job, to avoid some other loss, or as a condition of job benefits, security or promotion.

REPORTING PROCEDURE

If any of our employees, volunteers, managers, coaches, or students believes that he or she has been subjected to discrimination, harassment or offensive conduct, either directly or in their presence, and whether committed by other employees, supervisors, clients, vendors, or visitors to the workplace, the employee has the right to file a complaint. This may be done in writing or orally.

You may report these matters by contacting your coach/instructor or any other member of management. These persons are also available to discuss any concerns you may have and to provide information to you about our policy and our complaint process.

INVESTIGATION

When we receive the complaint, CATCh will promptly investigate the allegation in a fair and expeditious manner. The investigation will be conducted in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances. Our investigation will include a private interview with the person filing the complaint and with witnesses. We will also interview the person alleged to have committed the discrimination or harassment. An effective policy and thorough investigation requires the support of all personnel. Consequently, employees who engage in discrimination, harassment or retaliation or who fail to cooperate with investigations of discrimination, harassment or retaliation may be subject to discipline.

If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, we will act promptly to eliminate the offending conduct by taking appropriate remedial measures. The confidentiality and privacy of our employees and those involved will be respected during the investigation.

Furthermore, if it is determined that inappropriate conduct has been committed by one of our employees, we will take such action as is appropriate under the circumstances. Such action may range from counseling to termination from employment, and may include such other forms of disciplinary action as we deem appropriate under the circumstances. In addition, those who refuse to implement remedial measures, obstruct the remedial efforts of other employees, or engage in retaliation may also be subject to discipline.

STATE AND FEDERAL REMEDIES

In addition to the above, if you believe you have been subjected to unlawful discrimination or harassment, you may file a formal complaint with either or both of the government agencies set forth below. Using our complaint process does not prohibit you from filing a complaint with the following agencies:

    The United States Equal Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")
    1 Congress Street-10th Floor
    Boston, MA 02114
    617.565.3200
    North Carolina Employment Discrimination Bureau
    1-800-NC-LABOR (625-2267)

Inappropriate Behavior on-stage

While the previous section details behaviors and actions that are unacceptable, fostering an open and inclusive community where everyone feels welcome requires more than simply defining bad behavior.

What we do requires pushing some envelopes, and we have an obligation and desire to support each other in that. Open channels of communication, in which all parties can share through mutual respect and without fear or shame, is critical.

In trying new things, in being bold, attempting to be authentic, representing real life on stage, and — most of all, building this 747 in mid-air — we let ourselves be vulnerable to making mistakes which outsiders might find troublesome.

We can share our concerns in a spirit of support and encouragement, recognizing the vulnerability our scene partner accepted.

We can receive those concerns without shame, accepting the support and love in which they were given.

The Guiding Principle is…

When in doubt, speak up. Your voice and concerns are invaluable to the community.

Even if you aren’t sure whether the action rises to the level of inappropriate behavior, it’s still important to speak up.

  1. Your concern may help establish a pattern of inappropriate behavior, which when taken individually, don’t seem to be “so bad” but need to be addressed.
  2. Talking through your discomfort with the scene, if even you ultimately decide there was no inappropriate behavior, can help you and your scene partners work better together.

When to speak up

  • Immediately if not in a show, and the action needs to be called out. Examples may include, but aren’t limited to
    • Inappropriate touching
    • Sexual innuendo or advances to a minor
    • Racist or sexist remarks
  • With the group: Instructors and coaches will set aside time at the end of each class, practice, and post-show notes as an open invitation to discuss any moments in which performers were uncomfortable.
  • Alone with a CATCh staff member at breaks, or before/after class (show, practice, etc.).
  • Online via our form or through email to respect@CATCh.theater.

How to speak up

If you experience discrimination, harassment, or other inappropriate behavior at CATCh, your judgement and your voice are the ultimate authority on how to proceed.

However, through talks with experienced performers, many of whom have faced such situations, we have developed some guidelines to help foster the conversation towards a positive conclusion (i.e., the immediate end of the behavior and a better community understanding).

  1. Make statements about yourself and your feelings.
  2. Focus on the behavior, not the person.
  3. If possible, address the issue within your group (team, class) to encourage conversation and openness about these subjects.

How to listen

Nobody likes getting notes. Hearing that your character or jokes on stage were hurtful or inappropriate is doubly difficult to take.

However, your teammates need you to have their backs, and that means taking the feedback to heart — whether you’ve been talking over others or making a lot of sexist moves.