Member Code of Conduct Concerning Sexual and Other Harassment

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons promotes an environment of respect, fairness, integrity and inclusiveness. These values are reflected in the STS Code of Ethics, with which all members of the Society have agreed to comply as a condition of membership. The STS Code of Ethics has always required that members avoid engaging in any form of harassment in dealings with each other, other health care professionals, and STS staff, but it has done so through broad language[1]. To address the topic of harassment specifically and in greater detail, and to include specific provisions regarding interactions that individuals acting in their capacity as members may have with non‐members (such as vendors and exhibitors, STS staff, and convention center or hotel staff) the Society hereby adopts this Code of Conduct specifically directed against all forms of harassment.

Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment

The Society’s commitment to its values is reflected in its policy of providing an environment for its members that is free of prohibited harassment. As a result, the Society maintains a strict policy that any form of harassment conducted by members of the Society on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, age, marital status, physical or intellectual disability unrelated to the essential functions of the job, or any other protected status, taking place under the auspices of the Society, will not be tolerated. This includes, but is not limited to, conduct such as taunting, jokes, epithets, derogatory comments, slurs, derogatory drawings, social media and other postings, emails and text messages, and physical conduct such as unwanted contact and blocking of a person’s movement. Harassment also includes, without limitation, the use of abusive or degrading language, intimidation, stalking, and harassing photography or recording. This policy applies to member (i) conduct at STS offices, (ii) conduct occurring in the context of any meetings or other events held by the Society, (iii) interactions relating to Society meetings or events, or (iv) interactions in connection with any other Society matters.

This prohibition also encompasses any form of sexual harassment, whether verbal or physical. This includes sexually harassing conduct that interferes with an individual’s work or working environment (including working environments outside of the individual’s offices, such as at Society meetings). It also includes unwelcome sexual advances, flirtations, or attention, requests for sexual favors, inappropriate physical contact, and other verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature. No member of the Society shall threaten or insinuate, either explicitly or implicitly, that the refusal of another STS member, employee or applicant for membership of the

Society to submit to sexual advances will adversely affect that person’s role within the Society, employment, work status, evaluation, wages, advancements, assigned duties or any other condition of employment or career development. Similarly, no Society member shall promise, imply or grant any preferential treatment in connection with another Society member’s, employee’s or membership applicant’s engaging in sexual conduct with them.

The Society expects all of its members to act responsibly to create a pleasant and professional working environment free from discrimination and harassment.

Complaint Procedure

Any Society member or applicant for membership who believes that they have been the subject of actions by any Society member who has violated the foregoing policies should report such violation by contacting a member of STS staff immediately so that senior STS staff are alerted, an investigation commenced and other appropriate action taken pursuant to STS procedures. STS policy prohibits retaliation against any Society member or applicant for membership who files a complaint in a good faith belief that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment or other discriminatory treatment, even if ultimately insufficient evidence is found to substantiate the complaint.

The Society will promptly investigate all allegations of discrimination and harassment. Violations of STS discrimination or harassment policies will be met with appropriate action. The lodging of a frivolous or intentionally false complaint also violates this policy and the Code of Ethics, and will be met with appropriate action. Members of the Society found to have violated STS policy (including the Code of Ethics) may face disciplinary action in accordance with the Bylaws and policies of the Society, including the suspension or loss of meeting privileges or leadership appointments, and the initiation of an ethics complaint by the Standards and Ethics Committee, which could result in a range of penalties up to and including expulsion from the Society.


Adopted: October 26, 2019 (STS Board of Directors)


[1] The STS Code of Ethics requires members to “uphold the standards of professionalism” (Section 2.1). Referencing interactions that members experience in various roles as professionals, the STS Code of Ethics requires members to “act fairly, in good faith, honestly, and respectfully in all their dealings with ancillary staff and other health care professionals” (Section 2.2); “act fairly, in good faith, honestly, and with compassion and respect for patients’ dignity and rights” (Section 1.2); and “honor their fiduciary, legal, and professional obligations in serving their professional organizations” (Section 3.2).