This information is provided for individuals who have been advised by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA or "Association") that a complaint has been filed against them alleging that they have violated the ASHA Code of Ethics (2016).
The Board of Ethics (hereinafter, "BOE") is charged by the Bylaws of the Association with the responsibility to interpret, administer, and enforce the Code of Ethics of the Association. A fundamental precept that guides the BOE 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 (CCC). The BOE recognizes that each case must be judged on an individual basis, and that no two cases are likely to be identical. Thus, the BOE has the responsibility to exercise its judgment on the merits of each case and on its interpretation of the Code of Ethics.
See Code of Ethics, Practices and Procedures of the Board of Ethics, and Ethics Resources for additional ethics-related information.
Anyone who believes that an ASHA member or holder of the CCC has violated the Code of Ethics 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 and information published in advertisements, newspapers, and websites.
Complaints of alleged violations of the Code of Ethics must be submitted in writing in accordance with ASHA's Ethics Complaint Adjudication Process. The completed complaint form must include a written attachment that includes the information and facts on which the complaint is based and any additional documentation and other evidence that corroborates and supports the allegations. The complaint must be in writing and mailed to the address provided on the complaint form. The BOE does not accept anonymous complaints.
Once a complaint is submitted in accordance with the complaint filing procedures and is determined to be within the jurisdiction of the BOE, the ASHA Director of Ethics sends a notification letter, on behalf of the BOE, to the individual named in the complaint (the Respondent) along with a copy of the complaint, all attachments submitted by the initiator of the complaint (the Complainant), and a copy of the Code of Ethics and Practices and Procedures of the Board of Ethics.
You, as the Respondent in the matter, will have 45 days to submit a response to the complaint. It is very important that you submit a response to ensure that the BOE has all of the relevant information it needs in order to adjudicate the matter fairly. Even if you acknowledge that you violated the Code of Ethics, submitting a response indicating your awareness of the matter and, if appropriate, an explanation of any possible mitigating factors, will help the BOE determine the appropriate sanction if it determines that there was a Code of Ethics violation.
A certificate holder who has resigned their CCC after a complaint is made or an alleged violation has occurred is not exempt from ethics complaint adjudication, whether currently in process or not. Failure to respond to a complaint may be construed as a violation of Principle of Ethics IV, Rule P, which states, "Individuals making and responding to complaints shall comply fully with the policies of the Board of Ethics in its consideration, adjudication, and resolution of complaints of alleged violations of the Code of Ethics."
Your response should address each allegation (stated or implied) made by the Complainant. If you do not believe that you violated the Code of Ethics, you should provide any documentation that you believe would refute the Complainant's claims. If you acknowledge that you did violate the Code of Ethics, you should let the BOE know of any circumstances that led to the violation and/or what steps you have taken to ensure that it will not happen again.
The BOE relies on the information provided by the Complainant and Respondent in each case. Therefore, it is imperative that you provide the BOE with all the facts and evidence you have to support your response and wish the BOE to consider in its deliberations.
Facts and evidence to be provided in your response may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Note: If any documents containing confidential information, such as client/patient/employment records, are submitted to substantiate your response, 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).
In order to facilitate our copying of documents to be provided to the members of the BOE,
Send your response and accompanying documentation, in an envelope marked CONFIDENTIAL, to:
Director of Ethics
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard #309
Rockville, MD 20850-3289
There is no change in your ASHA membership or ASHA certification status during the time the matter is being adjudicated. A sanction affecting your ASHA status will not go into effect until the BOE issues its Final Decision in the matter, nor does the BOE provide any information about the complaint to any individuals, organizations, or agencies until after the BOE's Final Decision is issued. (See below for details on disclosure of information after a Final Decision is issued.)
Once your response is received or the 45-day response period expires, the Chair of the BOE will review the case for the first time. The Chair will consider material provided by you and the Complainant and will determine whether the complaint should be dismissed for insufficient evidence or further reviewed by the BOE. If the Chair decides the BOE should review the case, the complaint and your response will be provided to all members of the BOE for consideration at the next scheduled BOE meeting. The BOE will consider all evidence submitted by the Complainant and the Respondent and reach an Initial Determination, which will be sent to you shortly after the meeting. The determination may be that there was insufficient evidence that a violation of the Code of Ethics occurred or that there was a violation.
The provision of due process, the time permitted for responses, and the right to appeal adverse decisions interact with the BOE's yearly meeting schedule in such a fashion that the average case takes approximately 6–12 months to reach conclusion (if an appeal to the Ethics Appeal Panel is not involved). The BOE issues its Final Decision after all appeals are either exhausted or waived.
If the BOE determines that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that a Code of Ethics violation occurred, you, your legal counsel (if applicable), and the Complainant will be notified of the BOE's determination as a Final Decision, and the matter will be considered closed.
If the BOE determines that a violation occurred, it will specify which Rules of Ethics were violated and propose one of the following sanctions: Written warning, Reprimand; Censure; Withholding, Suspension, or Revocation of membership and/or the CCC. You will be notified of the BOE's decision shortly after the meeting, and you will then have 30 days to submit a request for a Further Consideration Hearing (i.e., first-level appeal).
If you request Further Consideration, the hearing will be conducted at the next scheduled BOE meeting. You may submit a brief and any additional evidence and documentation for the BOE's consideration, and you also have the opportunity to participate in the hearing by telephone or in person. Participating in the hearing, either by phone or in person, allows the BOE to ask specific questions of you 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 participate with you at the hearing. The BOE will then conduct deliberations on the matter and either affirm its Initial Determination or amend its finding regarding the Code of Ethics provisions violated and/or the proposed sanction. The Further Consideration Determination will be mailed to you shortly after the meeting.
If you do not request Further Consideration within 30 days of the date of the Initial Determination, the initial decision will be issued as a Final Decision. (See Disclosure of BOE Actions below.)
If the information presented at the Further Consideration Hearing results in the BOE's amending its Initial Determination and finds that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that a Code of Ethics violation occurred, you and the Complainant will be notified of the BOE's determination as a Final Decision, and the matter will be considered closed.
If the information presented at the Further Consideration Hearing results in the BOE's affirming its Initial Determination and proposed sanction, or amends its initial finding regarding the Code of Ethics provisions violated and/or the proposed sanction, you will be notified of the BOE's decision shortly after the meeting.
If you believe that in adjudicating the matter, the BOE did not follow its procedures and/or that its decision was arbitrary and capricious and without any evidentiary basis, you may appeal the Board of Ethics Further Consideration Decision to the Ethics Appeal Panel (i.e., final appeal). The request for this appeal must be received by the BOE within 30 days after the date of the Further Consideration Decision. The Ethics Appeals Panel will not receive or consider any evidentiary matters that were not included in the official record of the Further Consideration Decision. If the Ethics Appeal Panel determines that the BOE did follow its procedures and that the decision was not arbitrary and capricious, the Further Consideration Decision will become final. If the Ethics Appeal Panel determines that the BOE did not follow its procedures and/or its decision was arbitrary and capricious, the matter will be sent back to the BOE for reconsideration.
If you do not request an appeal to the Ethics Appeal Panel within 30 days of the date of the Further Consideration Decision, the Further Consideration Decision becomes final, and a copy of the Final Decision will be provided to you.
If the Final Decision is a finding that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that a violation occurred, the decision is provided to you, your legal counsel (if applicable) and the Complainant only.
If the Final Decision is a finding that a violation occurred and the sanction is Reprimand, it will be disclosed only to you, your legal counsel (if applicable), the Complainant, and when appropriate, to staff and Association counsel, each of whom shall be advised that the decision is strictly confidential.
If there is a finding that a violation occurred and the sanction is Censure, Withholding, Suspension, or Revocation of Membership and/or the CCC, the decision will be disclosed as follows:
If you have questions about the specific complaint filed against you, please contact the director of ethics, at 800-498-2071, ext. 5785 (members). If you have questions about the overall complaint adjudication process, contact the director of ethics or the ethics case manager, at 800-498-2071, ext. 5763 (members) or 800-638-8255, ext. 5763 (consumers). General questions about the process may also be e-mailed to email@example.com.