Ethics Complaint Process
NAHO is not a licensing body and its authority to address complaints alleging its members and certified hearing officials have violated the Model Code of Ethics (Code of Ethics) is limited. The process for addressing complaints of alleged violations of the Code of Ethics is intended to evolve over time. However the purpose of the process is, and should always remain, to provide a fair and impartial process for determining if a member or certified hearing official has violated NAHO’s Code of Ethics and, if necessary, to impose sanctions.
Who can file an ethics complaint?
Any person, including any NAHO officer, Board member, or committee chair, with personal knowledge of facts which they believe constitute a violation of NAHO’s Code of Ethics may file a complaint with the Chair of the Ethics Committee.
Who is subject to an ethics complaint filed with NAHO?
An ethics complaint may be filed against any person who is a NAHO member, or any NAHO certified hearing official (CALJ or CHO).
What grounds can be the basis of the allegation?
The complaint must state facts which, if assumed to be true, would constitute a prima facie violation of the Code of Ethics which has been adopted by NAHO and is posted on the NAHO website.
Where and how does someone file a complaint?
The complaint must be in writing, state the facts upon which it is based, name the NAHO member or certified hearing official who is the subject of the complaint, and be signed by the person who is filing the complaint, including the complainant’s mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address. Anonymous complaints will not be accepted.
The complaint should be addressed to the Chair of the Ethics Committee at the Chair’s address on the NAHO website, unless the Chair of the Ethics Committee is the subject of the complaint.
When the Chair of the Ethics Committee is the subject of the complaint, the complaint shall be addressed to the President of NAHO at the President’s address on the NAHO website. The President shall appoint a member of the Board who is not a member of the Ethics Committee as the temporary Chair of the Committee until all proceedings regarding the complaint against the Chair have been completed. The Chair of the Ethics Committee shall not serve on the Committee in any capacity during the time a complaint against the Chair is pending. When any other member of the Ethics Committee is the subject of an Ethics violation complaint, that member shall not serve as a member of the Committee during the time the complaint against the member is pending. The President may appoint another member of the Board to replace an Ethics Committee member while a complaint against the member is pending, if the President deems it necessary to do so.
How long does someone have to file an ethics complaint?
A person must file a complaint within 30 days after the matters giving rise to it take place or within 60 days after that date if the complainant demonstrates good cause for not filing the complaint within the 30 day period. The Ethics Committee shall reject complaints filed more than 60 days after the matters giving rise to the complaint take place, except in unusual circumstances.
What is the time frame for processing the complaint and how will a complainant and the subject of a complaint be informed of the outcome?
A. The Chair of the Ethics Committee shall document the date a complaint is received. The Chair shall send the complainant written acknowledgement that the Chair has received the complaint and shall forward a copy of the complaint and the acknowledgment to the President of NAHO within one week after the date the Chair actually receives the complaint.
B. Within two weeks after receiving the complaint the Chair shall determine whether, assuming the facts of the complaint are true, they constitute a prima facie violation of the Code of Ethics. The Chair may consult with one or more members of the Ethics Committee in making the decision. If the Chair concludes the complaint does not constitute prima facie evidence of a violation of the Code of Ethics, the Chair shall send a letter informing the complainant that the complaint will be dismissed and state the grounds for doing so, and shall send a copy of the letter to the members of the Ethics Committee and the President of NAHO.
C. If the Chair concludes the complaint does constitute prima facie evidence of a violation, the Chair shall, within two weeks after receipt of the complaint, send a copy of the complaint to the member or certified hearing official named in the complaint, together with a request for a written response to the complaint, by mailing it to the person's last known address. Service is complete upon mailing. The person against whom the complaint is filed shall have 30 days from the date of receipt of the complaint to file a written response. The response shall be addressed to the Chair at the Chair’s address on the NAHO website. Upon receipt of the response the Chair shall provide copies of the complaint and the response to the members of the Ethics Committee and convene a meeting of the Committee in person, by telephone, or by any other appropriate means to consider and act on the complaint. The meeting shall take place no later than 30 days after the date the Chair receives the written response of the member or certified hearing official named in the complaint or the end of the 30 day period specified for the member or certified hearing official to file a written response, whichever date is earlier. The Committee may undertake such additional proceedings or actions the Chair deems necessary to fully and fairly investigate the complaint and prepare recommendations for the Board. The Committee may, if necessary, extend the deadline for forwarding its recommendations to the Board. If the Ethics Committee undertakes additional proceedings the Chair shall notify the President of NAHO in writing of those proceedings, the reasons they are necessary, and any new date by which it will submit its recommendations regarding the complaint to the Board. The Ethics Committee shall review the complaint and response and recommend what action, if any, the Board should take regarding the complaint.
D. The Chair shall send the Committee’s recommendations and a statement of the reasons for the recommendations, to the President of NAHO. The President of NAHO shall forward the recommendations to the members of the Board in time for the Board to act on the recommendations at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. The Board may accept or reject the Committee’s recommendations in whole or in part or act on the matter in such other way as the Board deems appropriate under the circumstances. The Board shall issue a written decision to the person who filed the complaint and the member or certified hearing official who is the subject of the complaint, informing them of the Board’s decision and the reasons for the decision. The Committee shall not recommend, and the Board shall not impose, sanctions unless it is concluded that there is a preponderance of the evidence in the record to show that a member or certified hearing official has committed a violation of the Code of Ethics. A preponderance of the evidence means evidence in the record of the proceedings, taken as a whole, which supports or warrants a conclusion that it is more likely than not that the member or certified hearing official committed a violation of the Code of Ethics.
When a determination is reached that a member or certified hearing official has violated the Code of Ethics, the Ethics Committee may recommend, and the Board may impose, such sanctions as are deemed appropriate. The action of the Board is final and is not subject to appeal. The Board shall not report any sanctions it imposes to a member’s or hearing official's employer.
NAHO is a professional organization, not an oversight committee. NAHO has no authority over individual members in the performance of their duties in their respective agencies.