2nd update on the progress of the Harassment Committee

Joined
Dec 19, 2013
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54
#1
Hello to all,

I am here again to provide you an update on the workings and progress of the Harassment Task Force. The last update was to let the community know that we had created a long-form code of conduct, including a system of bans and suspensions meted out by an impartial panel for all of our signatory events. At the time, our next step was to go through the process of creating a short-form of the code of conduct for easy digestion, and getting tournament organizers capable of running events with more than 150 people to become signatories.

As of the time of this update, 18 of the 38 tournament organizers we wanted as signatories have given their full support of the program. However, some concerns have been raised by the biggest TOs and organizations that have not signed on yet, which has slowed our progress until an acceptable answer is found. The main concern is surrounding the legality of having a panel ruling to ban individuals from an event; particularly, the question of legal liability should someone banned from an event decide to press charges against one or all of the signatories or the panel members. The issue is that if someone feels slighted and decides to sue for defamation or discrimination, there is no clear distinction of who is legally liable for damages or a legal defense. Is it one member of the organization, or are all equally liable and equally [un]protected by law? Furthermore, TOs have typically been under the assumption that they are legally allowed to remove anyone from their event at any time and for any stated reason; this assumption has come under question with the investigation of legal liability as well.

While this may sound over-complicated for what should be an simple organization, there is unfortunately a current precedent for taking this into consideration. A prominent member of the community (who will remain unnamed) is currently accused of the grooming of a minor and sexual assault, however this person has hired a lawyer on retainer who has threatened to litigate against any tournament who tries to bar him entry into their event. While the victim has opened a criminal case against this person, and while it is obvious that the community should want to bar him from all events, the very real and serious threat of litigation is far too much for any tournament to afford. Tournaments already strain and struggle just to break even; defending against a $20k defamation lawsuit would bankrupt every TO in the world.

Several solutions have been proposed at this time, ranging from having a signatory buy-in to a legal defense fund offering legal protection from these kinds of lawsuits, to simply reigning it back to an 'informal agreement', and allowing extraordinary events like this one to be handled case-by-case. The panel is currently reaching out to its network of lawyers, legal experts, and eSports organizational minds to determine the best course of action, as well as the one that signatories will be most likely to agree upon. We are still attempting to have the completed product prepared for the summer majors of Shine and Super Smash Con, however this is a very serious hurdle that requires careful investigation and planning before acting on. While the concerns are serious, the panel is still committed to its stated goal of setting guidelines of behavior and removing the most toxic and dangerous people in the community. I will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available; until then, we ask that you please have a little more patience with our progress.

Sincerely,

Roboticphish
Harassment Task Force Project Manager
 
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