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Ethics

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Practice Policy

Statement of Practices and Procedures of the Board of Ethics

Board of Ethics



About This Document

Effective February 8, 1998; revised 1993; revised 1997; revised 1998; revised 2004; revised 2008.

The Board of Ethics is charged as follows by the Bylaws of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2008):

The Association shall establish a Board of Ethics that shall (1) formulate, publish, and, from time to time, amend a Code of Ethics (hereinafter the “Code”) containing the professional responsibilities by which members and certificate holders shall be bound; (2) develop educational programs and materials on ethics for distribution to members and certificate holders, academic programs, and other agencies and associations; and (3) adjudicate complaints alleging violations of the Code. Members of the Board of Ethics shall be appointed by the Committee on Committees. The Board of Ethics shall review all proposed amendments to the Code and forward recommendations regarding the proposed revisions to the Board of Directors. The Code and all amendments shall be subject to approval by the Board of Directors. The Board of Ethics shall formulate and publish procedures that shall be used for the processing of alleged violations of the Code, including a reasonable opportunity to be heard through counsel of one's own choosing. The Board of Ethics shall determine sanctions for violations in its discretion as it deems appropriate, including revoking membership and/or certification. Revocation of membership and/or certification requires a two-thirds vote of the Board of Ethics. Any appeal from a Board of Ethics action shall be decided by a panel of the Board of Directors, whose decisions shall be final.

A fundamental precept that guides the Board of Ethics in the discharge of its responsibility is that an effective Code of Ethics requires an orderly and fair administration and enforcement of its terms and requires full compliance by all members of the Association and all holders of Certificates of Clinical Competence. The Board of Ethics recognizes that each case must be judged on an individual basis, and that no two cases are likely to be identical. Thus, the Board of Ethics has the responsibility to exercise its judgment on the merits of each case and on its interpretation of the Code.

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A. Definition of Terms

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B. Case Review Procedures

  1. Alleged violations shall be reviewed by the Board of Ethics in such manner as the Board of Ethics may, in its discretion, deem necessary and proper. Any complaint must be received by the ASHA Board of Ethics within ten (10) years from the date of the alleged violation and shall be valid for any individual who was, at the time of the alleged violation, (a) a member of ASHA, whether certified or not, or (b) a nonmember holding the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the Association.

  2. Except when the Complainant is the Board of Ethics, the Complainant(s) shall submit a signed waiver (and nondisclosure agreement in cases where the Complainant is not an ASHA member or certificate holder) to the Board of Ethics consenting to allow the Board of Ethics to send a copy of the complaint to the Respondent for the Respondent's response. In cases where the Board of Ethics issues a sanction of Censure, or the Withholding, Suspension, or Revocation of Membership and/or Certificate(s) of Clinical Competence, the waiver shall also consent to allow the Board of Ethics to send its Final Decision and any relevant case information provided by the Complainant(s)

    1. to any state agency providing a license to the Respondent, or to which the Respondent has applied for license or other credential;

    2. to any other professional organization that enforces a code of ethics or a code of professional conduct of which the Respondent is a member or is an applicant for membership;

    3. as required by law.

  3. Upon receipt of the signed waiver (and nondisclosure agreement if applicable), a copy of the complaint shall be sent to the Respondent, and the Respondent's answer to the allegation shall be in writing and must be received by the Board of Ethics no later than 45 days after the date the Board of Ethics notice is mailed to the Respondent. Resignation of membership or other termination and/or surrender of the Certificate(s) of Clinical Competence shall not preclude the Board of Ethics from continuing to process the alleged violation to conclusion, and the notice from the Board of Ethics to the Respondent requesting an answer shall so advise the Respondent.

  4. When a Respondent is initially contacted regarding a complaint filed against him/her, the Respondent shall be advised that in cases where the Board of Ethics issues a sanction of either Censure, or the Withholding, Suspension, or Revocation of Membership and/or Certificate(s) of Clinical Competence, any Final Decision of the Board of Ethics and any relevant case information provided by the Complainant(s) and/or the Respondent, may be provided

    1. to any state agency providing a license to the Respondent, or to which the Respondent has applied for license or other credential;

    2. to any other professional organization that enforces a code of ethics or a code of professional conduct of which the Respondent is a member or is an applicant for membership;

    3. as required by law.

  5. At its discretion, the Board of Ethics may inform the appropriate staff of the Association's National Office that the Respondent is the subject of a complaint alleging violation of the Code and may instruct such staff that no change in membership and/or certification status shall be permitted without approval of the Board of Ethics.

  6. The Board of Ethics shall consider all information provided by the Complainant(s), Respondent, or any other relevant source, and shall base its Initial Determination on that information in light of the version(s) of the Code of Ethics in effect at the time of the alleged violation. Board of Ethics determinations shall be based on facts established by a preponderance of the evidence/information submitted to the Board of Ethics.

  7. Upon review of all information provided by the Complainant(s), Respondent, or any other relevant source, the Board of Ethics shall make an Initial Determination, which may be a finding that there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of a violation or a finding that a violation occurred. In this regard, the final decision of any state, federal, regulatory, or judicial body may be considered sufficient evidence that the Code was violated.

    For Initial Determinations in which the finding is that a violation occurred, the Initial Determination will include the Code of Ethics principle(s) and rule(s) violated, the proposed sanction, the proposed extent of disclosure, and, if deemed necessary, a cease and desist order.

  8. The Board of Ethics may, as part of its Initial Determination, order that the Respondent cease and desist from any practice found to be a violation of the Code. Failure to comply with such a cease and desist order is, itself, a violation of the Code, and shall normally result in Revocation or Withholding of Membership and/or Revocation or Withholding of the Certificate(s) of Clinical Competence. The Board of Ethics may require the Respondent to attest in writing that s/he has complied with the cease and desist order.

  9. The Board of Ethics shall give the Respondent notice of its Initial Determination. The notice shall also advise the Respondent of the right to request Further Consideration by the Board of Ethics and of the right, after Further Consideration, to request an appeal to the Board of Directors. The procedures to be followed in exercising those rights are described in Sections F and G of this statement.

  10. In cases where the Initial Determination of the Board of Ethics is that there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of a violation, the Board of Ethics shall give the Respondent and Complainant notice of its Initial Determination and advise both that the matter is considered closed.

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C. Notices and Answers

All notices and answers shall be in writing and are effective on the date sent to the Respondent via Certified Mail, Restricted Delivery, Return Receipt Requested, to the address then listed in the ASHA membership and certification records or, if this method is not available, by any other method reasonably calculated to send the notice to that address. All answers shall be in writing and are effective when received by the Board of Ethics.

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D. Sanctions

Sanctions shall consist of one or more of the following: Reprimand; Censure; Withholding, Suspension, or Revocation of Membership and/or the Certificate(s) of Clinical Competence. The Board of Ethics may add terms and conditions at its discretion. If the Respondent holds or is pursuing both membership and certification, a decision to revoke, suspend, or withhold shall include both membership and certification. A decision to withhold either membership or certification occurs when the Respondent holds or is pursuing only one. A cease and desist order may become part of any sanction.

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E. Disclosure

  1. The Board of Ethics Decision, upon becoming final, shall be published in an ASHA publication distributed to all of the membership, and shall be provided to any person or entity requesting a copy of the Decision, if the sanction is Censure, or the Withholding, Suspension, or Revocation of Membership and/or Certificate(s) of Clinical Competence. In the case of Reprimand, the Board of Ethics Decision shall be disclosed only to Respondent, Respondent's counsel, Complainant(s), and when appropriate, to staff and Association counsel, each of whom shall be advised that the decision is strictly confidential and that any breach of that confidentiality by any party who is a member and/or certificate holder of the Association is, itself, a violation of the Code.

  2. In cases where the sanction is Censure, or the Withholding, Suspension, or Revocation of Membership and/or Certificate(s) of Clinical Competence, the Board of Ethics may provide its Final Decision and relevant case information

    1. to any state agency providing a license to the Respondent, or to which the Respondent has applied for license or other credential;

    2. to any other professional organization that enforces a code of ethics or a code of professional conduct of which the Respondent is a member or is an applicant for membership;

    3. as required by law.

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F. Further Consideration by the Board of Ethics of the Initial Determination

  1. When the notice of Initial Determination from the Board of Ethics states that the Respondent has violated the Code and announces a proposed sanction and extent of disclosure, the Respondent may request that the Board of Ethics give Further Consideration to the Initial Determination.

  2. The Respondent's request for Further Consideration shall be in writing and must be received by the Board of Ethics no later than 30 days after the date the notice of Initial Determination was mailed to the Respondent. In the absence of a timely request for Further Consideration, the Initial Determination shall be the Board of Ethics Decision, which decision shall be final and there shall be no further right of appeal to the Board of Directors.

  3. If the Respondent submits a timely request for Further Consideration by the Board of Ethics, the Board of Ethics shall schedule a hearing and notify the Respondent. The Respondent shall be entitled to submit a written defense or brief, which must be received at least 30 days prior to the hearing. The Respondent may choose to appear personally before the Board of Ethics to present evidence and to be accompanied by counsel. The proceedings shall be informal; strict adherence to the rules of evidence shall not be observed, but all evidence shall be accorded such weight as it deserves. As an alternative to personal appearance at the hearing, the Board of Ethics shall afford the Respondent the opportunity to make a presentation to the Board of Ethics and to respond to questions from the Board of Ethics via a conference telephone call placed to the Respondent by the Board of Ethics. All personal costs in connection with the Further Consideration, including travel and lodging costs incurred by the Respondent, and Respondent's counsel and witnesses, and counsel and other fees, shall be the Respondent's sole responsibility.

  4. After the Further Consideration Hearing, the Board of Ethics shall render its decision and notify the Respondent. If evidence presented at the hearing warrants, the Board of Ethics may modify the finding, increase or decrease the severity of the sanction, and/or modify the extent of disclosure that was announced to the Respondent in the notice of Initial Determination. This decision shall be the Board of Ethics Decision After Further Consideration, and, in the absence of a timely appeal to the Board of Directors, the Board of Ethics Decision After Further Consideration shall become the board's Final Decision.

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G. Appeal of Board of Ethics Decision to Board of Directors

  1. The Respondent may appeal the Board of Ethics Further Consideration Decision to the Board of Directors. The request for appeal shall be in writing and must be received by the Board of Ethics no later than 30 days after the date the notice of the Board of Ethics Decision After Further Consideration was mailed to the Respondent. If the Respondent appeals the Board of Ethics Further Consideration Decision to the Board of Directors, a copy of the further consideration hearing transcribed in full by an ASHA staff member from the audiocassette recording shall be made available to the Respondent at the Respondent's expense. The Respondent's request for the hearing transcript must be received by the Board of Ethics within 30 days after the Further Consideration Decision was mailed to the Respondent. The Respondent may only appeal a Decision After Further Consideration if the claim is based on a showing that the Board of Ethics did not adhere to procedural requirements, and/or that the decision of the Board of Ethics was arbitrary and capricious and without any evidentiary basis. The Board of Directors Appeals Panel may not receive or consider any evidentiary matters not included in the official record of the Further Consideration Decision.

  2. The procedures for a hearing before the Board of Directors are described in the Statement of Practices and Procedures for Appeals of Decisions of the Board of Ethics.

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H. Reinstatement

Persons whose membership or certification has been revoked may apply for reinstatement at the completion of the revocation period. A request for reinstatement will be reviewed by the Board of Ethics at the board's next scheduled meeting, assuming a complete file is received at least 30 days prior to the meeting. The reinstatement process can take several months depending on when the next Board of Ethics meeting is scheduled.

In all cases, the applicant bears the burden of demonstrating with appropriate documentation that conditions that led to revocation have been rectified and that, upon reinstatement, the applicant will abide by the Code. The Board of Ethics' deliberation will be guided by the premise that reinstatement must be in the best interests of the Association and persons served professionally.

Reinstatement requires a two-thirds vote of those board members present and voting. The Board of Ethics may set any conditions or requirements it deems necessary for the protection and benefit of the public and the professions in the issuance of any order for reinstatement. The applicant for reinstatement must meet all certification standards and procedures of the Council For Clinical Certification and/or membership requirements that are in effect at the time of the Reinstatement Order.

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I. Amendment

This Statement of Practices and Procedures may be amended on recommendation of the Board of Ethics and a vote of the Board of Directors. All such changes will be given appropriate publicity.

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Index terms: ethics, Board of Ethics

Reference this material as: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2008). Statement of Practices and Procedures of the Board of Ethics [Ethics]. Available from www.asha.org/policy.

© Copyright 2008 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association disclaims any liability to any party for the accuracy, completeness, or availability of these documents, or for any damages arising out of the use of the documents and any information they contain.

doi:10.1044/policy.ET2008-00287