Survivor-Centered Gender Justice Groups Announce The Fair Process Principles for Equitable Political Workspaces

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 8, 2022
CONTACT: Anna Zuccaro |

Survivor-Centered Gender Justice Groups Announce The Fair Process Principles for Equitable Political Workspaces

Guide Focuses on How Political Candidates Should Address Sexual Abuse Allegations in Informal Work Environments

Says Focus on Third-Party Investigations Will Help Stop Allegations from Being Politicized or Weaponized

WASHINGTON, DC — Citing learned experiences from the last election, and in preparation for the 2024 general election, the Survivors’ Agenda, a coalition of gender justice organizations and civil rights groups, has announced a new guide – The Fair Process Principles – on how political campaigns should handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault in political workplace.

Political work environments are often distinct from other work settings in a number of ways, including both being informal settings with no human resources departments and where abuse often takes place with no witnesses present at the time of reported incidents. The Fair Process Principles aim to help campaigns address sexual harassment and assault allegations in a way that does not politicize or weaponize the claims.

The Fair Process Principles for Equitable Political Work Spaces outlines that political campaigns must have clear policies that apply to everyone associated with the campaign equally, and have clear reporting mechanisms for any other affiliated with the campaign to report harassment, assault, or harm without fear or retaliation. Allegations should be invested by a third party, and follow seven core tenets, including:

The process should be “trauma-informed” in that it is conducted with care for the needs of any individual(s) who have experienced harm;
The process should be conducted by an independent, unbiased, trained investigator or entity;
The process must assess credibility by using the “preponderance of evidence” standard used in civil cases;
The process must recognize only relevant denials and defenses in pursuit of the truth;
The process must not cause further harm to survivors, including retaliatory behaviors by accused parties themselves or through proxies;
The process requires accountability and consequences when harm is found.


“Every campaign season, survivors of sexual abuse are trotted out and weaponized, or their stories completely disregarded by politicians, candidates, or their surrogates. We can, and must do better,” said Elisa Batista, director at UltraViolet, a leading national gender justice organization. “The Fair Process Principles help us move in that direction – getting away from a criminal framework of “innocent” and “guilty,” to recognizing that sexual abuse is common in settings with unequal power dynamics, and approaching allegations from the perspective of listening to what a survivor says and needs to heal. And we know this works.”

“The Fair Process Principles is a culmination of years-long organizing and planning by multiracial, multiethnic, and multidisciplinary employment attorneys, direct service providers, survivor advocates, policy experts, political candidate organizations, and socially-minded investors, who want to help root out sexual violence in our politics,” explained Rachel O’Leary Carmona, Executive Director at Women’s March. “Most importantly, we at the Survivors’ Agenda coalition are survivors who know what we need from a process of accountability.”

“Survivor autonomy is vital in every facet of political accountability, as is safety and access to trauma-informed care. Whether we show up as a constituency, or come forward as a result of experiencing harm in political spaces, survivors deserve a process that is responsive to their needs, and protects them from shame, scrutiny and backlash,” added Dani Ayers, CEO of me too. International. “The Fair Principles for Equitable Political Workspaces and Places is a critical step in achieving this. Creating a transparent process for accountability that puts the survivor first, their care first, and maintains their autonomy, reminds them that there is a path towards healing and justice after trauma.”

“The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence is proud to be a part of the Survivors’ Agenda and this work to develop fair process principles for campaigns,” explained Terri Poore, Policy Director for the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. “Everyone has a role to play in addressing and ending sexual violence. Survivors deserve better, and we all have the power to improve responses to survivors. The fair process principles provide a blueprint for campaigns to take action, and we hope all parties will adopt them.”

“These principles recognize the importance of building a fair process before a crisis hits; commitments to fair and transparent investigations that reject victim-blaming and rape myths will help ensure accountability and survivor justice,” added Emily Martin, Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice at National Women’s Law Center. “We should expect nothing less from our leaders and those who seek to lead.”

“Survivors and victims of sexual violence experience more threats to physical and social integrity than others. In the restaurant industry, where sexual harassment is prevalent, stigma runs high and their stories are easily disregarded. This is why it is so important that Fair Process Principles, along with the Restaurant Workers Bill of Rights that demands justice, dignity and equity in the workplace, are in place to handle these heartbreaking situations in a trauma-informed, race-sensitive and survivor-informed way,” said Alicia Renee Farris, Chief Operating Officer at the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United. “These Principles will certainly encourage more survivors to speak out, provide them support structures, diminish stigmatization and social exclusion, and improve their mental and physical health.”

Parts of the Fair Process Principles were published in The Washington Post on March 5, 2021, on the eve of an investigatory process launched by New York Attorney General Letitia James into allegations of sexual harassment against then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Survivor’s Agenda worked with Attorney General James’ office to refine the processes following her offices’ investigation of Cuomo.

The Fair Process Principles for Equitable Political Work Spaces was created by the Survivors’ Agenda – a coalition of gender justice and survivor-focused advocates, experts, and organizations. Members include: UltraViolet, Women’s March, me too. International, the National Women’s Law Center, Justice for Migrant Workers, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Consent Awareness Network, Equality labs, Equal Rights Advocates, Girls for Gender Equity, End Sexual Violence, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, Survivors Know, TEWA Women United, YWCA, Adasina Social Capital, National Crittenton, and Vote Run Lead.


# # # # #