The Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA) Code of Conduct: Sexual Harassment

The Register of Professional Archaeologists’ Code of Conduct preface states that “archaeology is a profession, and the privilege of professional practice requires professional morality and professional responsibility.” Section 2.1(f) of the Code of Conduct requires that an archaeologist shall “Know and comply with all federal, state, and local laws, ordinances, and regulation applicable to her/his archaeological research and activities…” Compliance with all applicable laws and regulations includes those prohibiting sexual harassment. The primary federal law in the United States dealing with this issue is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex (gender). Sex discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee unfavorably because of that person’s sex or sexual persuasion (e.g. gender identity discrimination), but can also involve treating someone less favorably because of his or her connection with an organization or group that is generally associated with people of a certain sex, or because of a certain condition (such as pregnancy). Sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination that violates the Act. The Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including all governmental bodies. Other laws have been developed by other jurisdictions.


If a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA) violates one of these laws or regulations prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination, and is prosecuted and convicted under one these laws or regulations, then that RPA has violated the Register’s Code of Conduct. As a result, a grievance against this RPA can then be filed with the Register’s Grievance Coordinator, implementing the Register’s grievance process.


To reinforce its position on sexual harassment, the Register has modified its Guidelines and Standards for Archaeological Field School certification. The guidelines currently state, under “Section E. Sponsor,” that the institution sponsoring the field school must provide for the safety and health of participants. The Register has added an additional statement that providing for the safety and health of participants includes maintaining an environment free of sexual harassment as defined by applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations; and, the sponsoring institution shall take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring.


The Register joins its sponsoring organizations, the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), and the American Anthropological Association (AAA), in using all available tools to eliminate sexual harassment in the archaeological profession.