Expected Behaviours Policy
Whatever it is that you want from a gym, we want you to be able to find it here at Elite. We believe that everyone deserves to achieve their goals, whether that’s running a marathon, bettering their mental health, or being able to run after the grandkids. With this in mind, we’re committed to creating a friendly, inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone who visits us, works out with us, or works with us.
We therefore consider any form of harassment, bullying, or discrimination to be in direct conflict with Elite’s purpose, culture and values. We operate a zero-tolerance policy towards any of the above behaviours, and all allegations of bullying and/or harassment will be immediately and impartially investigated, regardless of who it is reported by or about.
All allegations of bullying or harassment will be treated with discretion and confidentiality as far as a thorough and fair investigation process will allow. Should such an investigation determine that harassment or bullying has taken place, appropriate action will be taken to address the issue and prevent any recurrence.
To keep things fair and simple, we operate one policy covering bullying and harassment of and/or by our members, employees, self-employed PTs, and any externally contracted parties engaged to work with Elite. This policy applies both onsite, and extends to cover all events run through or with Elite Fitness, along with all social media outputs and engagement.
Please speak to Russell or one of our team if you have any questions about this policy and how it relates to you and your time in the gym.
Definitions: bullying and harassment ……………………………………1
Examples of bullying and harassment ……………………………………2
What should I do if I think I am being bullied or harassed? ……………3
How will my complaint be dealt with? ……………………………………4
What happens if I am accused of bullying and/or harassment? ………..5
Bullying and harassment
Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour that is meant to undermine, humiliate, and/or injure the person on the receiving end.
Harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination that involves unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic such as sex, gender reassignment (or transgender status), race (including colour, nationality and national or ethnic origins), religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership status, pregnancy, maternity and age. Harassment is either intended to, or is reasonably considered by the person on the receiving end to have the effect of violating their dignity or creating a hostile, degrading, humiliating or intimidating environment.
When referring to the above definitions, it is important to note that everyone has the right to decide what behaviour is acceptable and to have those decisions respected by others. Therefore conduct may be considered harassment whether the person behaving in that way intends to offend or not.
A single incident can be considered harassment where a reasonable person would consider the behaviour to significantly violate the rights of an individual – for example, uninvited sexual touching. In certain situations where it may be less clear whether a certain behaviour is likely to be unwelcome or cause offence, for example certain jokes, flirting, or asking someone out on a date, it may not be considered harassment in the first instance. If, however, this behaviour continues once it has been made clear that it is unwelcome, then it will likely be considered harassment.
Unwanted conduct towards a person because that person is perceived to have a protected characteristic (for example, the perception that an individual has a disability or a particular sexual orientation) can still be considered harassment even if the individual in question does in fact not have that characteristic.
Harassment and/or bullying can also occur because of someone an individual is associated with – for example, if a partner is pregnant. An individual may also feel harassed even if the behaviour in question is not directed towards them.
Serious bullying or harassment may amount to civil or criminal offences, e.g., a civil offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and criminal offences of assault.
2 Examples of bullying and harassment
We are all individuals, and our views of what is and isn’t acceptable can vary depending on the place, context, and people involved in an incident, as well as on our own opinions (which can change over time). Sometimes it is hard to know for sure whether someone’s behaviour is inappropriate in a given situation.
Below you can find a number of examples of behaviours that could constitute bullying or harassment. Please note however that this list is for illustrative purposes only and is certainly not exhaustive – just because a behaviour isn’t found on this list, this doesn’t mean it might not be classed as harassment in certain instances.
Any unwelcome physical contact, which can include hugging, groping, patting, pinching, stroking, kissing, or other inappropriate touching.
Physical violence, including sexual assault. Threat of physical violence, including stalking, intimidating, or coercing someone.
Offering rewards in exchange for sexual favours and/or complying with sexual advances, e.g. benefits, services, professional promotion. Similarly, making threats or comments regarding the consequences of refusing sexual advances.
Insulting and/or ridiculing someone.
Derogatory, objectifying, or offensive comments regarding someone’s appearance, weight, sexuality, relationship status, dress, age, or gender identity.
Intrusive questions regarding the sexuality, gender identity, and/or relationship status of an individual.
Telling jokes and/or stories and or starting or sharing malicious rumours about someone; using unwelcome, offensive, or derogatory nicknames; making comments of a sexual nature or regarding the race, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or marital status of an individual.
Flirting with someone in a context, time, or setting that is generally considered inappropriate.
Deliberate refusal to use the appropriate pronoun, or intentionally calling someone who has transitioned their previous name.
Using suggestive, unwelcome or obscene gestures towards someone.
Exposure of private parts.
Sending sexual images or videos to another individual, e.g, sending unsolicited pornographic videos.
Exposing or sharing another individual’s private images and/or videos without their consent.
Displaying or sharing pictures, objects, or literature with sexual or racial overtones, transphobic, derogatory, or offensive content (even if not directed at any specific individual).
Exclusion, isolation, or non-cooperation of/with any individual because they have, or are perceived to have, or are associated/connected with someone with a protected characteristic.
Staring at another individual’s body offensively and making the person feel uncomfortable.
Oppressive levels of supervision.
Deliberately sabotaging or setting someone up to fail.
Acts of harassment and bullying that may also constitute a serious crime could include the following:
Threats of violence; physical attack and sexual assault; hate crimes, such as racist, homophobic or transphobic hostility; sharing private or sexual imagery or videos of another individual without their consent, and sharing the previous name, gender or trans identity of an individual without their consent, if that individual possesses a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).
Whilst we sincerely hope that such serious instances would not occur at Elite Fitness and believe that we have created a culture in which such behaviours are recognized as totally unacceptable, alongside taking all reasonable actions to prevent such occurrences, in any instance in which another’s actions may constitute a serious crime, we will always encourage reporting the incident to the police and will ensure full company-wide cooperation with any resultant police enquiries and investigation.
3 What should I do if I think I am being bullied or harassed?
We know and understand that taking that first step and coming forward when you feel that you are being bullied or harassed can be very vulnerable and difficult. In order to support anyone in this situation, we have clear procedures and guidelines implemented throughout our team to facilitate and support open conversations, clear communication, dispute resolution and, where appropriate, corrective action. We would therefore encourage anyone who believes that they are being bullied or harassed, or simply being made to feel uncomfortable in any fashion, to share their experiences with us in the knowledge that their concerns will be dealt with seriously, urgently, and considerately.
In certain instances, you may feel that you are happy to address matters yourself informally without engagement with the Elite team – for example, where an individual may not be reasonably aware that their behaviour is unwelcome or distressing to you, or where your own opinion on what you consider acceptable has changed over time. Whilst this certainly doesn’t excuse the behaviour in question, if you suspect that the individual may not realise the impact of their behaviour we encourage you to raise this with them where you feel comfortable and safe to do so.
If you are not sure of how to approach this discussion yourself, or feel uncomfortable or unsafe doing so, let one of our team know and we can provide the appropriate support for you to do so.
If an informal approach as suggested above does not resolve the issue, or if the situation is too serious for such an approach to be appropriate, you may make a formal complaint in the following way:
- Speak to a member of the Elite team
- A written statement detailing the nature of the complaint will need to be submitted – you will be advised by the member of our team on the most appropriate format for this, whether over email or the completion of a complaint form
We will also ensure that, wherever possible, you are able to discuss your complaint with the member of our team you feel the most comfortable with, for example if you would prefer to discuss an issue with a PT or member of staff you have an existing relationship with, or to discuss an incident of sexual harassment with someone of your own sex.
4 How will my complaint be dealt with?
When dealing with formal complaints will with ensure the following:
- The complaint is taken seriously and investigated promptly and thoroughly
- To outline the expected timelines involved in the process and to keep you regularly updated on general progress and developments
- That the complaint will be investigated (if appropriate) by the manager of the gym and all action taken will be thoroughly recorded
- To confirm all findings and results (subject to data protection regulations) and share any recommendations with you
- To implement all reasonable safeguards while an investigation is carried out, and in line with any findings from such an investigation
- To maintain confidentiality and discretion as far as a robust and fair investigation will allow – to facilitate this, certain limited disclosures may need to be made on a need-to-know basis.
Whilst we understand that you may wish to remain anonymous, particularly with regard to the subject of the complaint, it is unlikely that a thorough investigation will be possible without putting the allegations to the individual concerned. In this instance please talk to us and we can discuss the best and most appropriate approach.
5 What happens if I am accused of bullying or harassment?
If someone approaches you to raise something that they feel is an issue, please don’t dismiss their concerns because you were only joking or feel that they are being overly sensitive. Everyone has the right to have their feelings respected by others, and different individuals will find different conversations and situations acceptable.
If you have offended someone unintentionally, the individual concerned may be satisfied with a proper apology and assurance that the situation will not be repeated in the future.
If a formal complaint is made about your behaviour, the matter will be quickly and appropriately dealt with in accordance with company policy.
We understand that it can be distressing to have a complaint levelled against you, please be assured that no conclusions will be prematurely drawn and no corrective measures taken until a thorough and fair investigation has been completed. It may however be necessary to take certain measures to limit contact between you and the individual who made the complaint, or in more serious cases to suspend access to the site until the investigation has been concluded. This would not however constitute corrective action, rather a short-term action in line with our commitment to provide appropriate safeguarding measures.
Should the investigation conclude that there is a reasonable belief that bullying or harassment has occurred, corrective action will be taken. This action will vary depending on the seriousness of the case and/or your individual relationship with Elite Fitness, but may include the following measures:
For employees – disciplinary action or dismissal without notice in more serious cases
For self-employed staff, e.g. Personal Trainers – changes to agreement or termination of agreement
For gym members – membership warnings or termination of membership and restriction of access
In more serious cases, where bullying and harassment allegations may constitute unlawful discrimination and may result in other civil claims and/or criminal proceedings against you, these would proceed independently of any corrective action taken on the part of Elite Fitness.
It is extremely important, if a complaint is made about your behaviour, that you do not subject the individual who made the complaint, or any individuals who supported someone making a complaint, to any form of victimisation whatsoever. Elite Fitness is committed to fostering an environment in which anyone who is uncomfortable or feels subject to bullying or harassment is encouraged and free to come forward without fear of discrimination or victimisation. Therefore if it is determined that an individual has been subject to victimisation, further corrective action will be taken.
In any event in which a complaint is not upheld, Elite Fitness will endeavour to provide appropriate further support to all parties involved to help enable all those involved to continue or resume working, or working-out at the gym.
Elite Fitness undertakes responsibility for the following:
- To regularly review all policies, processes, and working methods to ensure that they foster a welcoming, safe and supportive environment and are free from any unlawful discrimination.
- To periodically assess our success in ensuring that the gym remains a safe and inclusive environment for all those that work here or work out here.
- To thoroughly review the outcomes of any cases where complaints of bullying and/or harassment have been made in order to ensure that proper procedures were followed and necessary changes are implemented in any future instances if required.
We can only ensure that Elite remains the welcoming and supportive environment that it is however with your help, which you can give us by committing to the following:
- Treating everyone here at Elite, whether that’s members, employees, personal trainers, contractors, visitors or dogs, with dignity and respect.
- To act in accordance with our membership rules, policies, and any reasonable requests from Elite Fitness employees or team members.
- Considering whether your behaviour may negatively affect others and rectifying it if necessary.
- Making it clear to others when you find their behaviour offensive or unacceptable, unless it should be reasonably obvious in advance that this would be the case.
- Being considerate of others and taking care not to dismiss any concerns they may raise informally with you regarding your behaviour.
- If appropriate and if you feel safe to do so, to intervene to prevent harassment or bullying.
- To report any instances of bullying or harassment according to the appropriate procedure and to support in the investigation of any complaint.
- To refrain from pre-judging or victimising any complainant or alleged harasser in any instance in which a complaint of harassment or bullying has been made.
Managers and team members here at Elite have an additional responsibility to:
- Lead by example in their own behaviour.
- Support the creation and maintenance of a safe and supportive environment for working and working out in line with company values.
- Ensure that all members, employees, contractors and visitors are aware of the standards of behaviour expected of them within the gym, and take appropriate preventive or corrective action where necessary.
- Take all concerns raised seriously and assume that any claim of bullying, harassment, or other inappropriate behaviour is legitimate and requires appropriate escalation according to company policy.
- Ensure that all employees, members, personal trainers, and other contractors or visitors are aware that they can raise any concerns at any time, and never discourage someone from raising a legitimate concern, or conceal a complaint raised with them.
- Ensure that all employees know what further support and advice is available for them if they feel that they have been a victim, or alternatively accused of bullying or harassment.