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Procedures for Handling Ethical Matters of the IAABC

A report of an alleged violation of the IAABC Code of Ethics may be filed in accordance with the procedures set forth herein. Complaints shall be limited to subjects specified in the IAABC Code of Ethics.

JURISDICTION

To be accepted, an ethics complaint must pertain to a “Member,” meaning an individual who:

  1. Is a current member of the IAABC; or

  2. Who was a member of the IAABC when the alleged violation(s) occurred.

 

TIMELINES

All timelines provided represent guidelines followed for the purpose of efficiency and to set general expectations. Timelines are not required or guaranteed, and the Ethics Director may approve a protracted timeline due to the complexity of the case, availability of CRP members, or any other circumstance that presents an obstacle for the Ethics Team to perform under the published time constraints. Processing of Complaints outside the published timelines does not constitute a violation of the Procedures, nor does it provide grounds for dismissal of a Complaint.

HANDLING OF ETHICS COMPLAINTS

SECTION I: FILING OF A COMPLAINT

To proceed, the individual filing the Complaint (“Complainant”) shall:

  1. Submit Complaint to the IAABC Ethics Office in writing via the electronic Complaint Form as a Complaint. Only Complaints submitted via the form will be considered. We cannot accept or hear Complaints submitted in any other way.

  2. The following information is necessary to process a Complaint:

  1. Names of alleged violator (“Respondent”) and Complainant. Complaints are filed confidentially but not anonymously. Any Complaints filed anonymously will be closed with no further action. However, a record of the Complaint will be kept.

  2. The specific portion of the Ethics Code alleged to have been violated.

  3. A specific written description , including where the violation was alleged to have occurred, who was involved, what happened, and what sections of the Ethics Code apply.

  4. Any details deemed to be of importance in support of the Complaint.

  5. Complainant shall disclose at the time of the filing of a Complaint and during the pendency of the matter, any and all legal action undertaken based on the same facts as those asserted in the Complaint.

Section J:  RECEIPT OF COMPLAINT OF ALLEGED VIOLATION

  1. The Ethics Director shall verify that the Respondent is a member or former member.  The Ethics Director shall then acknowledge receipt of the Complaint to the Complainant without further comment.  

  2. The Ethics Director shall either administratively close the complaint if the Ethic Office claims no jurisdiction per Section B of these Guidelines or address the Complaint if the Complaint is limited to the following alleged violations of the COE Sections 6.5 and 6.6:

  1. Reports of non-member use of IAABC logos or claiming an association with the IAABC;

  2. Reports of members using logos outside of the IAABC logo use guidelines;

  3. Reports of members referring to their IAABC certification or membership using outdated or incorrect verbiage, e.g. “Certified Dog Behaviouralist.”

  4. The details of the Complaint shall be kept confidential in order to preserve the Board’s ability to provide a fair hearing, should an appeal be filed. 

  5. For all complaints not strictly limited to alleged violations of COE Sections 6.5 and 6.6., the Ethics Director shall appoint a CRP of a minimum of three (3) Ethics Team members to review the Complaint and gather additional information from the Complainant and witnesses, as needed. The CRP may include the Director if the Director so desires.

  6. If approved by the Board, legal counsel may be contacted for advice. At any time during the investigation, the CRP may consult with the Ethics Director (if not a member of the CRP) and/or the Executive Director regarding the report.

  7. A Team member may not serve on the CRP in the review of any matter in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned or which presents either an actual or an apparent conflict of interest. If the Director or an Ethics Team member is a Complainant, Respondent, witness, or other non-neutral party to any Complaint, that person(s) shall not be involved as a hearing officer or decision maker at any level in the investigation or review of that Complaint.  Such person(s) shall not be involved as a member of the CRP. 

Section K: COMPLAINT REVIEW PANEL PRELIMINARY REVIEW AND TIMELINE OF COMPLAINT OF ALLEGED VIOLATION

  1. The CRP shall convene to review the allegations and evidence and develop preliminary findings regarding whether sufficient evidence of violation has been presented to proceed with a formal investigation. All decisions shall be by majority vote of the CRP.

  2. The CRP shall appoint a CRP member to prepare a preliminary findings report summarizing all allegations of violations of the Code of Ethics and the evidence supporting the findings of the CRP. The preliminary report shall be prepared within 30 days of the receipt of the Complaint, with an extension possible with permission from the Director. 

  3. If the CRP finds that the Complaint does not allege or provides insufficient evidence of violation of the Ethics Code, the Ethics Director shall notify the Complainant that the matter is closed. The Ethics Director shall notify the Executive Director of the decision and of the notification to the Complainant.


Section L: COMPLAINT REVIEW PANEL FORMAL INVESTIGATION AND TIMELINE OF FINAL DETERMINATION

  1. If the CRP finds that sufficient evidence of violation has been presented to proceed with a formal investigation, the Ethics Director shall notify the Respondent of the existence of the Complaint. The Complaint, supporting evidence and preliminary findings shall be summarized and the summary provided to the Respondent.  The CRP may also propound additional questions to the Respondent. 

  2. The Ethics Director will provide the Respondent thirty (30) days to furnish a statement and/or any relevant evidence in response to the Complaint and to respond to questions propounded by the CRP. The Ethics Director shall forward the responses to the CRP.  Failure to respond to questions propounded by the CRP on the part of the Respondent shall be considered grounds for sanction, up to and including termination of membership in IAABC.

  3. After the CRP has received the response from the Respondent, the CRP may promulgate additional questions to the Respondent.  The Respondent shall have fifteen (15) days to respond to any questions and/or provide any additional information to the CRP. 

  4. After the CRP has received a response from the Respondent, the CRP may promulgate additional questions to the Complainant. If necessary for the Complainant to respond to the questions, the CRP may provide a summary of the response by the Respondent. The Complainant shall have fifteen (15) days to respond to any questions and/or provide any additional information to the CRP. If the Complainant fails to furnish the additional information requested, this may be considered grounds for dismissal of the Complaint.

  5. Within sixty (60) days of the receipt of all responses, and not more than one hundred twenty (120) days after publication of the preliminary findings report, the CRP shall re-convene to review the allegations and evidence and develop a final determination. If the CRP concludes that the evidence supports a determination of a COE violation, the CRP shall also recommend sanctions.  

  6. All determinations and sanctions shall be decided by majority vote of the CRP.

  7. Within fifteen (15) days of the CRP meeting, a member of the CRP shall prepare a final report summarizing the CRP’s determinations regarding the allegations and the supporting evidence. If the CRP concludes that the evidence supports a determination of a COE violation, the report shall also include the CRP’s recommended sanctions. If the CRP concludes that the evidence does not support a determination of a COE violation, the report shall include the CRP’s recommendation of dismissal. The Executive Director and Ethics Director shall review the final report to determine if the recommendations of the CRP should be accepted. If the recommendation of the CRP is not accepted by the Executive Director and Ethics Director, the CRP may reconsider its recommendation or refer the Complaint to an Appeal Hearing.

  8. If the final determination recommends dismissal of the Complaint and is accepted by the Executive Director and Ethics Director, the Ethics Director shall notify the Complainant and Respondent of the final determination of dismissal. If the final determination recommends sanctions and is accepted by the Executive Director and Ethics Director, the Ethics Director shall present the final determination of violation with sanctions to the Respondent. The Respondent shall have 15 days to accept or appeal the final determination of violation with sanctions.

SECTION M: ETHICS SANCTIONS

  1. Sanctions are consequences imposed by the IAABC upon Respondents subsequent to a determination that the Respondent has violated the COE.

  2. Sanctions fulfill the following purposes:

  1. Restitution; 

  2. Supporting compliance with ethical practices;

  1. Protection of the general public; and

  2. Protection of the reputation and integrity of the IAABC.

  1. Sanctions may be assigned based on the severity, type of violation, and/or the determination of which outcome supports the best interests of the IAABC.

  2. Sanctions may include:

  1. Reprimand – Admonishment where the gravity of the violation does not warrant suspension or termination of membership.

  2. Corrective Action Required - Education and/or mentoring be completed where appropriate and the violation does not warrant termination of membership.

  1. Probation - From one (1) week up to six (6) months; may be combined with Reprimand and/or Corrective Action Required.

  2. Suspension – From one (1) week up to six (6) months; may be combined with Corrective Action Required.

  3. Termination – Termination of membership privileges; removal of title designation may be imposed.

  4. Sanctions may also include continued membership or membership reinstatement contingent upon the Respondent making restitution or repayment to the Claimant, or undertaking certain obligations regarding future professional conduct, advertising, or promotional activities. 

  1. Any member whose membership is suspended or terminated as a result of an ethics violation shall not be entitled to a refund of membership dues.


Section N: COMPLETION OF THE REVIEW PROCESS

  1. If the Complaint is dismissed at any time, the Complainant shall have no right of appeal unless providing substantial new evidence. In its discretion, the Ethics Office may reopen the matter for new evidence.

  2. Acceptance of the CRP final determination concludes review of the Complaint by the CRP. If the Respondent accepts the CRP final determination, the Ethics Director shall notify the Complainant of the determination and notify the Complainant that the determination is confidential. 

  3. If the Respondent appeals the CRP final determination, the Complaint shall be forwarded to an Appeal Hearing.

  4. If the Respondent accepts the CRP final determination but violates any part of the accepted sanctions, the Ethics Director, with approval of the Executive Director, may impose additional sanctions, up to and including termination of membership and/or revocation of title designation or certification.


Section O:  APPEAL HEARING WITH DETERMINATION BY HEARING PANEL

  1. Once a Respondent is notified that the Complaint will proceed to an Appeal Hearing, the Ethics Director shall appoint a HP to investigate and make a determination. The HP shall consist of three (3) members in good standing, at least one (1) of who will be drawn from members of the Board of Directors and two (2) members of the Ethics Hearing Panel. 

  2. If the Director or an Ethics Team member is a Complainant, Respondent, witness, or other non-neutral party to any Complaint, the Director shall not be involved as an HP or decision maker at any level in the investigation or review of that Complaint.  

  3. The HP shall review the original complaint and all evidence collected regarding the Complaint, but will not review the reports or determinations of the CRP. The HP may continue to gather information from any source deemed pertinent and may ask for additional information or comment from the Complainant, Respondent, or witness.

  4. The HP may set time restrictions for responses pursuant to Section L but in no event may anyone be granted longer than thirty (30) days to respond.

  5. The HP shall conduct its review and provide a written HP determination report within 30 days of receipt of all information. If the HP needs more than 30 days to make a determination, the HP shall notify all parties that an extension is needed. The HP shall state the length of the extension.

  6. If the HP concludes that the evidence supports a determination of a Code of Ethics violation, the HP shall also determine the sanctions. Sanctions may be the same or different from the sanction(s) determined by the CRP. If the HP concludes that the evidence does not support a determination of a Code of Ethics violation, the HP shall issue a determination of dismissal. 

  7. All determinations and sanctions shall be decided by a majority vote of the HP. If no majority can be reached regarding a determination and/or sanction, the least severe of the determination and/or sanction shall prevail.

  8. A member of the HP shall prepare a final report summarizing the HP’s determinations regarding the allegations and the supporting evidence. The report shall include the HP’s determination as to whether the alleged violation(s) did occur, and if so, the imposed sanction(s). 

  9. The HP may consult with legal counsel with approval of the Board.

  10. The HP shall forward its HP determination report to the Ethics Director and the Executive Director.

  11. The Ethics Director shall notify the Respondent of the determination and any sanctions. The Ethics Director shall also notify the Complainant of the determination and any sanctions and of the confidentiality thereof.

  12. The determination of the HP is final with no further option for appeal.  

Section P. CONFIDENTIALITY

  1. Upon submission of a Complaint, Complainant will agree to be bound by the Policies and, and agree to keep submission of the Complaint, the identity of the Respondent, the alleged violation, and any related act or determination by the Ethics Team, confidential, other than as noted herein.

  2. Confidentiality shall be maintained throughout the process. Confidentiality is defined as disclosure only to the parties necessary to process the complaint, including but not limited to the Ethics Team, witnesses, and IAABC members responsible for providing technical or administrative information related to the complaint, and only to the degree required for their participation.

  3. Once a determination has been made, the parties involved will be notified of that determination. Details of the determination shall remain confidential except as provided in L.8. and N.2. above or as required by law.

  4. Violation of confidentiality by any IAABC member may be considered a violation of the Ethics Code. Violation of confidentiality by a non-member may result in dismissal of the Complaint and may result in civil penalties.

  5. The confidentiality obligations imposed by these Procedures do not preclude a Complainant, Respondent, witness, or any IAABC member involved in a Complaint from consulting legal counsel. Complainant and Respondent may seek the assistance of counsel in drafting statements and in responding to any questions asked pursuant to these Procedures.

  6. The Board reserves the right to disclose the names of parties and resolution of a case if in the best interests of the organization.

  7. A party to a Complaint may petition the Board for permission to disclose the names of the parties and the resolution of his/her/their case. The Board may grant disclosure for good cause. The Board may consult the Ethics Office in making the good cause determination.

Section Q: ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ETHICS CODE BY THE BOD AS A BODY OR BY EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP OF THE IAABC

  1. Any Complaint against the BOD as a body shall be reviewed by the Ethics Director consistent with procedures in Sections A through N, with the exception that the CRP must include five (5) Ethics Team members.

  2. If the Respondent wishes to appeal the determination of the CRP, the appeal shall be filed in the appropriate state court. 

  3. If the Executive Director is the Respondent, the Ethics Director shall ask the President to appoint a board member to act as Executive Director for the limited purpose of compliance with the responsibilities of the Executive Director in the procedures stated above. 


Adopted: 9/5/2021