Guidelines for Responding to a Complaint of an Alleged Violation of the ASHA Code of Ethics

This information is for individuals who have had a complaint filed against them  with the ASHA Board of Ethics (the "BOE") alleging that they have violated the ASHA Code of Ethics or the ASHA Assistants Code of Conduct (the "Code of Conduct"). Collectively, these policy documents are referred to as the ASHA "Codes."

Enforcement of the Code of Ethics

The BOE is charged by the ASHA Bylaws with the responsibility to interpret, administer, and enforce the Code of Ethics and the Code of Conduct. In order to meet these responsibilities, the BOE must administer and enfore the Codes in an orderly and fair manner. The BOE recognizes that each case must be reviewed on an individual basis and that no two cases are likely to be identical; however, the complaint process must be carried out in a consistent and equitable manner.

See the Practices and Procedures of the Board of Ethics (the "Practices and Procedures") and the Ethics Resources for additional information.

Background Information

How are ethics complaints filed?

Anyone who believes that (1) an ASHA member or a holder of the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) has violated the Code of Ethics or (2) a holder of ASHA assistants certification has violated the Code of Conduct may file a complaint against that individual. In addition, the BOE itself can initiate a complaint based on information that is part of a public record, such as actions taken against an individual by courts or regulatory bodies.

Complaints of alleged violations of the Codes must be submitted in writing in accordance with ASHA's Ethics Complaint Adjudication Process. Complaints can be submitted by U.S. mail, by email, or online through the Online Ethics Complaint Form. The submitted complaint form must contain a written summary of the information and facts on which that complaint is based, along with any additional documentation and/or other evidence that corroborates and supports the allegations. The BOE does not accept anonymous complaints.

How are individuals notified that a complaint of an alleged violation has been filed against them?

If a complaint meets the requirements set forth in the Practices and Procedures, the ASHA Ethics Office sends a notification to the individual named in the complaint (the Respondent). This notification includes a copy of the complaint, all attachments submitted by the individual who filed the complaint (the Complainant), a copy of the Practices and Procedures, and a copy of the Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct, whichever is applicable.

Responding to a Complaint

What do I do if I am notified by ASHA that an ethics complaint has been filed against me?

You, as the Respondent in the matter, will have 45 days to submit a response to the complaint. It is important that you submit a response to the ASHA Ethics Office. Your response gives the BOE the relevant information it needs to fairly adjudicate the complaint. Even if your response acknowledges that you violated one of the Codes, submitting an explanation of what occurred along with any possible mitigating factors will assist the BOE in determining what sanction, if any, is warranted. If you don't submit a response, the BOE will nevertheless review your case and issue a decision.

Resigning your ASHA certification and/or membership will not terminate a complaint that has been filed against you. The BOE will complete its review of the complaint in accordance with its Practices and Procedures as long as the events that led to the complaint occurred while you were (a) ASHA certified, (b) an applicant for certification, or (c) a member of ASHA.

What should my response include?

Your response should address each allegation set forth in the complaint materials, and you should provide any documentation or materials that you believe refute the Complainant's allegations. If you acknowledge that you did violate one of the Codes, you should provide an explanation of what occurred and set forth any mitigating circumstances the BOE should consider.

The BOE relies on the information provided by the Complainant and Respondent when making its determination whether a violation occured. Therefore, it is important that you provide the BOE with all the facts and evidence you want it to consider in its deliberations.

Along with responding to each allegation made in the complaint, you may want to include the following:

  • Descriptions and copies of any communications with the Complainant and others regarding this incident.
  • Signed and dated witness statements.
  • Copies of all other materials and evidence that refute the Complainant's claims and/or corroborate and support your response.
  • Descriptions and dates of any actions taken by you to try to mitigate or rectify the situation.

Note: If any documents submitted to substantiate your response contain confidential information, such as client/patient/employment records, be sure to redact all identifying information (names, social security numbers, etc.). If you need to refer to a specific record you may assign letter or number codes in place of the redacted identifying information (for example, Client A, Patient B).

Mail or email your response and accompanying documentation to:

Mark your message "CONFIDENTIAL"

U.S. Mail:
Ethics Office
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard #309
Rockville, MD 20850-3289
Mark your envelope "CONFIDENTIAL"

How does the fact that a complaint has been filed against me affect my status during the adjudication process?

Unless the BOE issues an emergency suspension against you, there is no change in your ASHA membership or certification status during the time the complaint is being adjudicated. A sanction affecting your ASHA status will not go into effect until the BOE issues its Final Decision in the matter. The BOE will not provide any information about the complaint to any individual, organization, or agency until after its Final Decision is issued, unless required by law. (See notification of BOE decisions.)

If you are an applicant for certification, a complaint may delay your application.

After Your Response is Filed

What happens after I submit my response?

Once your response is received or the 45-day response period expires, the BOE Chair will review the case. The BOE Chair will consider all materials provided by you and the Complainant . The BOE Chair will then determine whether the complaint should be dismissed because there is insufficient evidence or because the complaint sets forth a de minimis violation (see Section I.A.3 of the Practices and Procedures). If the case is not dismissed, the complaint will be reviewed by the BOE at an Initial Consideration hearing. At the Initial Consideration hearing, the BOE will consider all evidence submitted by the Complainant and the Respondent and reach an Initial Determination, which will be sent to you after the meeting.

What happens if the complaint is dismissed?

If the complaint is dismissed by either the BOE Chair or the BOE, all parties will be notified, and the case will be closed.

How long does the adjudication process take?

A case may take more than 12 months to adjudicate, depending on the type of complaint filed, whether additional information is needed, and whether a Further Consideration hearing and/or appeal are conducted.

Further Consideration Hearings for Individuals Found in Violation of the Codes

What do I do if I disagree with the BOE's decision in my case?

If the BOE determines that a violation of the Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct occurred, it will specify which Rules of Ethics were violated and propose one of the following sanctions: Written warning, Reprimand, Censure, or Withholding, Suspension, or Revocation of membership and/or certification. You will be notified of the BOE's decision by both mail and email, and you will have 30 days from the date of the Initial Determination is issued to submit a request for a Further Consideration hearing.

If you do not request a Further Consideration hearing within 30 days of the date of the Initial Determination, a Final Decision will be issued. (See notification of BOE decisions.)

If you request a Further Consideration hearing, it will typically be conducted at the next scheduled BOE meeting. Prior to the hearing, you may submit a brief and any additional evidence and documentation for the BOE's consideration. You will be required to participate in the hearing either by video teleconference, by phone, or in person. Participating in the hearing allows the BOE to ask you specific questions that may help them with their decision. If you wish to retain legal counsel at your sole expense, the attorney may submit the brief on your behalf and attend the hearing with you.

After the Further Consideration hearing is held, the BOE will deliberate and either affirm its Initial Determination or amend its finding. If the BOE decides to amend its Initial Determination, it may revise the Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct provisions violated and/or the proposed sanction. The Further Consideration Determination will be emailed and mailed to you within six weeks of the decision being rendered.

What happens if the BOE still finds you in violation after a Further Consideration hearing?

If the BOE still finds you in violation after a Further Consideration hearing, you may appeal its Further Consideration Decision to the Ethics Appeal Panel (the "Appeal Panel") if you believe, in adjudicating the matter, that (a) the BOE did not follow its procedures and/or (b) the BOE's decision was arbitrary and capricious and without any evidentiary basis. The request for an appeal must be received by the BOE within 30 days from the date the Further Consideration Decision was issued.

If you do not request an appeal to the Appeal Panel or your request was not received within the 30 days of the date of the Further Consideration Decision, the decision will become final and a copy of the Final Decision will be sent to you.

If you request an appeal to the Appeal Panel, the practices and procedures for appeals of BOE Decisions will be followed.

The Appeals Panel will not receive or consider any evidence that was not included in the official record of the Further Consideration Decision.

  • If the Appeal Panel determines that the BOE did follow its procedures and/or that the decision was not arbitrary and capricious and was based on the evidence provided, the Further Consideration Decision will become final.
  • If the Appeal Panel determines that the BOE did not follow its procedures and/or that its decision was arbitrary and capricious and without any evidentiary basis, the Appeal Panel will send the matter back to the BOE for reconsideration.

Who will be notified of the BOE's Final Decision?

If the BOE dismissed the complaint or issues a sanction of Written warning or Reprimand, the decision will be disclosed only to you, to your legal counsel (if applicable), to the Complainant, and when appropriate, to ASHA staff and legal counsel, each of whom shall be advised that the decision is strictly confidential.

If the BOE issues a sanction of Censure or Withholding, Suspension, or Revocation of Membership and/or certification, the following will occur:

  • The decision will be published in an ASHA publication distributed to all ASHA members and provided to any person or entity requesting a copy of the decision.
  • The BOE may also provide its Final Decision and relevant case information 
    • to any state agency providing a license to the Respondent, or to which the Respondent has applied for license or other credential;
    • 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;
    • as required by law.

Questions and Further Information

What if I have questions about the complaint filed against me?

If you have questions about the specific complaint filed against you, please contact the senior director of ethics, at 800-498-2071, ext. 5785.

If you have questions about the overall complaint adjudication process, contact the senior director of ethics (see above) or the associate director of ethics adjudication at 800-498-2071, ext. 5763 (members) or 800-638-8255, ext. 5763 (consumers).

General questions about the adjudication process may be emailed to

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