- Authorization – The AAIHR shall maintain an Ethics Committee that shall consider a complaint forwarded by the President and/or the Ethics Committee Chairperson.
- Composition – The Ethics Committee shall consist of the Chairperson and a minimum of three (3) members. The Chairperson is appointed by the President of AAIHR for a three-year term. All of the members shall be individuals employed by active member organizations of AAIHR and appointed by the Ethics Committee Chairperson with Board of Directors approval for a three-year term. The Chairperson and committee members may succeed themselves.
- Role – The Ethics Committee shall be responsible for reviewing and acting upon reported violations of the AAIHR Code of Ethics or may, on its own initiative, institute an investigation of apparent violations.
I. Grievance Procedures
Complaints may be filed with AAIHR by anyone who has an ethics complaint against an AAIHR member. The complaint must be in writing on a completed AAIHR complaint form and shall be accompanied by supporting material to allow action on the complaint. All complaints must be received within three (3) months of the alleged violation.
A complaint must be filed in writing and sent directly to the Ethics Committee Chairperson at AAIHR Headquarters Office. Failure to provide adequate documentation will result in dismissal of the complaint.
In the event that a case is brought before the Ethics Committee, which would involve either the Chairperson or a member of the Ethics Committee, that member will be excused from any involvement in the case and, at the discretion of the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee, another AAIHR member may be substituted on an interim basis.
The President and the Ethics Committee Chairperson shall consider any and all complaints concerning violation of the Code within 30 days of receipt of any formal complaint. If the Ethics Committee Chairperson and the President determine that there is no reasonable cause, they shall dismiss the complaint and shall notify the complainant and respondent of such dismissal. If the AAIHR President and Ethics Committee Chairperson find a reasonable cause, they shall refer the complaint to the Ethics Committee.
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II. Ethics Committee Determination
If the complaint is referred to the Ethics Committee, the Chairperson of the Ethics Committee shall notify the respondent by certified return receipt mail that a complaint against respondent has been forwarded to the Ethics Committee and the Ethics Committee will investigate the complaint. The certified letter will be sent to the respondent within two weeks of the receipt of the complaint by the Ethics Committee. The certified letter will be sent to the respondent with a copy to the complainant and will:
- contain a copy of the complaint;
- contain a copy of the AAIHR Code of Ethics;
- advise respondent of the right to respond to the complaint;
- advise the respondent of the right to appear before the Ethics Committee to offer evidence or state the right of the respondent to offer evidence in written form and/or by telephone; and
- outline what areas of the Code are alleged to be in violation, and send a copy of the AAIHR complaint form
III. Investigation Process
- Respondent may file a response to the complaint within thirty (30) days after the complaint is received by the respondent. The answer shall indicate whether respondent intends to offer evidence. All such evidence shall be submitted within sixty (60) days after the complaint is received. If respondent shall fail to answer the notification within the thirty (30) day period, the Ethics Committee may proceed with determination of the complaint and state its final disposition.
- Respondent may offer all evidence in writing as well as by telephone without requesting a hearing.
- The parties involved in the dispute have a right to request cross examination to reconcile differences in points of fact.
- If respondent files a response, the Ethics Committee will acknowledge response within 30 days.
- Respondent may request a hearing. Such hearing will take place before the Ethics Committee.
- If a hearing is requested, the Ethics Committee will schedule a hearing for respondent’s testimony. Respondent and complainant will be notified sixty (60) days prior to the Ethics Committee meeting by certified mail of date, time and location.
- At the time of the hearing, the respondent will have the opportunity to present witnesses and pertinent evidence. Evidence may be presented by telephone or by videotape.
- All testimony at the hearing shall be recorded or otherwise preserved.
- If, after the hearing, the committee determines that a violation exists, a sanction may be imposed by a majority of the committee. Voting may be either in person or by telephone conference call.
- If there is not a hearing, the Ethics Committee may assign an investigator who will investigate the complaint and make a recommendation to the Ethics Committee. The committee will vote on the recommendation.
- The committee may impose any one or more of the following sanctions; education and counsel, reprimand, probation, suspension or expulsion.
- The respondent shall be notified of the decision by the Ethics Committee in writing by certified mail within thirty (30) days of the date of the decision or hearing, or determination without a hearing.
IV. Appeal to Board of Directors
- Following a decision of the Ethics Committee or after a hearing, a respondent will have the right to appear, in person or telephonically, at the next Board of Directors Meeting (date to be provided 30 days prior to the meeting). At that time, the respondent may appeal the Ethics Committee decision. No additional evidence will be permitted after the Ethics Committee ruling unless requested and approved by the Board of Directors. A respondent wishing to appeal will file a written statement concerning the basis for the appeal with AAIHR. The Board of Directors shall, within thirty (30) days of receipt of the written statement, review that statement and either grant or deny the request for appeal. If the appeal is granted, the Board of Directors shall fix a time limit for the appeal. The decision of the Ethics Committee will stand until the Board of Directors makes its determination.
- All proceedings before the Board of Directors and the Ethics Committee shall be recorded or otherwise preserved.
- In the event a case is brought to appeal before the Board of Directors and involves a member of the Board, that member will be excused from adjudicating the case.
V. Final Decision
The Board of Directors within thirty (30) days following the close of the meeting will report its final decision to complainant and respondent in writing. This will be done by the President of the Association.
VI. Definitions and Results of Sanctions
1. Education and Counsel – Recommendation of education and counsel regarding appropriate ethical practices and standards.
2. Private Reprimand – A private written communication admonishing respondent that the conduct was in violation of the Code; and that future violations of the Code will result in more stringent discipline. It is intended that written admonition shall be appropriate for minor violations of the Code, or for first time violators of the Code.
3. Probation – A period of up to 12 months during which time should additional conduct occur that constitutes a violation of the Code of Ethics, then the member shall be suspended. During a period of probation, the organization on probation may not state that it is a member of AAIHR in good standing in any written or oral communications. It may not have use of the AAIHR logo or access to any services offered by the AAIHR and its subsidiary companies. There will be no refund of dues previously paid.
4. Suspension – A period of up to 18 months during which time a sanctioned member may not state that it is a member of AAIHR in good standing in any written or oral communications. It may not have use of the AAIHR logo nor access to any services offered by the AAIHR and its subsidiary companies. Furthermore, it will not be allowed to attend any of the AAIHR meetings. During that period, the organization’s membership will be reviewed by the Board of Directors at its next regularly scheduled meeting. There will be no refund of dues previously paid.
5. Expulsion – Expelled organizations may reapply for membership after 3 years.
6. Publication – If the Board of Directors deems it useful for education purposes, the Board of Directors may publish a summary of the final report after having deleted the names of the parties involved. Reasonable efforts will be made to protect the confidentiality of individuals.
7. Confidentiality – All information gathered in the course of investigations by the President and Ethics Committee Chairperson, the Ethics Committee or the Board of Directors, shall be confidential and shall remain known only to those entities and their members. Release of such information, except in a final report (or summary of the final report) published by the Board of Directors, shall be a violation of the Code
8. Public Disclosure – The Association will, at the request of a client or a potential client, give the membership status of a member, and state whether that member has ever been in violation of the Code of Ethics, and will disclose only those that have resulted in probation, suspension or expulsion. No other sanctions will be disclosed.
All members are to be continuously aware of ways in which a member can help fellow association members improve their awareness and compliance with the Association’s Code of Ethics.