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How ASHA's Board of Ethics Sanctions Individuals Found in Violation of the Code of Ethics

Individuals who are found in violation of ASHA's Code of Ethics or Assistants Code of Conduct (collectively, the "Codes") receive sanctions for unethical conduct. 

Purpose of Sanctions

Sanctioning individuals for unethical conduct has three main goals:

1. To protect the public.

The welfare of the consumer and the reputation and integrity of the professions must be protected. A certification body has the responsibility of notifying the public and the professions when an individual under their jurisdiction has substantively violated their standards of ethical behavior. 

2. To serve as a mechanism to educate and rehabilitate.

It is important to provide feedback to individuals who violate one of the Codes so that they understand and appreciate exactly how their past conduct was inappropriate, so that it will be less likely to occur again in the future. These measures serve a rehabilitation function.

3. To inform other ASHA members and certificate holders that the Association enforces its ethical standards and alerts them that there are consequences for engaging in professional misconduct.

The ASHA Board of Ethics (the "BOE") publishes its most serious sanctions in The ASHA Leader to serve as a means of informing the membership of their ongoing ethical responsibilities.

Types of Sanctions the BOE Can Impose

The BOE has a range of sanctions it can impose when individuals are found in violation of the Codes; generally, the more egregious the misconduct, the harsher the sanction.

Written Warning

The sanction of Written warning is a notice to the Respondent with limited disclosure notifying them that their conduct has violated one of the Codes and should not be continued or repeated.

Reprimand

The sanction of Reprimand is confidential and imposed in cases where unethical conduct is of a minor nature. A Reprimand is disclosed only to the person found in violation and to the individual who originally filed the complaint (Complainant). Any further unauthorized disclosure of the sanction of Reprimand is, itself, a violation of the Codes.

Censure

The sanction of Censure is essentially a public reprimand. The violation is published in The ASHA Leader to the full membership in a manner that identifies the individual in violation, their city/state of residence, and the Code violated. When a sanction of Censure is imposed, notice of the ethics violation may also be sent to, among others, any state agency that provides a license to the individual and to any other professional organization the individual is a member of that enforces a code of ethics or code of professional conduct.

Suspension

The BOE can impose the sanction of Suspension of ASHA membership and certification in lieu of Revocation. The sanction is usually intended to be employed for short periods of time (e.g., 6 months). A major difference between Revocation and Suspension is that during the period of suspension, the sanctioned member must pay all dues and fees as well as fulfill certification maintenance requirements. At the end of the period of suspension, the sanctioned member must directly contact ASHA Certification to find out how to become current again; approval of the BOE is not required.

Revocation

For cases of egregious misconduct, the BOE can revoke the individual's ASHA membership and certification for a period of years, up to life. The sanction of Revocation requires a two-thirds vote of the members of the BOE present and voting. Notice of this sanction to the ASHA membership and other entities is the same as with the sanction of Censure.

After the period of revocation has expired, in order for the individual to seek reinstatement of ASHA membership and/or certification a petition must be made to the BOE, and the BOE must approve reinstatement by a two-thirds vote. In petitioning for reinstatement, the individual has the burden of demonstrating that conditions that led to the revocation have been rectified and that, upon reinstatement, the individual will abide by the ASHA code applicable to them. The individual must also satisfy all certification standards and procedures of the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC) and/or membership requirements that are in effect at the time of the Reinstatement Order.

Withholding

The BOE can impose the sanction of Withholding of ASHA membership and certification in cases where an applicant for membership and/or certification, or a Clinical Fellow who is a member in the application process but is not yet certified, is found in violation of misconduct. Additionally, withholding can also be used in situations where an individual is no longer an ASHA certificate holder or member. The BOE cannot revoke what the applicant does not have, but it can impose the sanction of Withholding of membership and/or certification for a period of years up to life.

After the period of withholding has expired, in order for the individual to seek reinstatement of ASHA membership and/or certification a petition must be made to the BOE, and the BOE must approve reinstatement by a two-thirds vote. In petitioning for reinstatement, the individual has the burden of demonstrating that conditions that led to the revocation have been rectified and that, upon reinstatement, the individual will abide by the Code applicable to them. The individual must also satisfy all certification standards and procedures of the CFCC and/or membership requirements that are in effect at the time of the Reinstatement Order.

Cease and Desist Orders

In addition to the sanctions identified above, the BOE can also order an individual to cease and desist from any practice or conduct found to be in violation of the Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct. The order essentially prohibits the individual from continuing a particular course of conduct and may require specific affirmative actions designed to comply with the order, including written confirmation of compliance. Failure to comply with a cease and desist order is, in itself, a violation of the Codes and normally results in Revocation of membership and certification.

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