1. Every complaint against a member shall be presented in a letter, signed by the complaining party (hereinafter called the complainant) and shall be presented to the State Vice President for Ethics. Confidentiality is critical for both parties.
2. The Vice President of Ethics contacts both complainant and respondent and selects a Mediator agreeable to both parties within one week of notification of charges. The Mediator shall be drawn from a pool of senior practitioners.
3. The complainant’s letter describing the charge shall be provided to the Mediator. The V.P. Ethics also provides a copy to the member who is being charged and the state president within thirty (30) days after the Mediator is selected.
4. The respondent shall have fourteen (14) days to submit a written response to the V.P. Ethics and Mediator. The complainant will receive a copy of the response.
5. The Mediator will set up a meeting or conference call with both parties to take place within two weeks of receiving the letter of response.
6. Following the initial meeting/conference call with the complainant and charged member, the Mediator will determine whether differences are personality conflict or ethical charge and submit a written report (leaving out all names) within 7 days to the V.P. Ethics. The V.P. Ethics will present the report at the next state board meeting with all names left out.
7. The Mediator will make a recommendation in the report whether to drop the charges or continue with full state ethics committee.
8. The ethics committee shall be comprised of the State Vice President for Ethics; an Ethics Representative from the charged member’s Chapter; three members at large who are not on the state board; a senior practitioner and the PRCA State Past President. At least one committee member shall be accredited.
9. If the Mediator recommends that a full State Ethics Committee meeting is in order, the Committee shall meet or hold a conference call to discuss the Mediator’s written report and recommendation. The Committee has the option of including the complainant and charged member in the discussion (both or neither, but not just one) or to include them at a later point in the meeting/conference call. Individual Committee members may not, other than where outlined in these rules, contact either party before or after the meeting regarding this matter. All business concerning this matter will go through the V.P. Ethics.
10. Respondent may make no more than one appeal to State Ethics Committee before final decision.
11. If the Committee rules the ethics charge is valid, the Mediator or Arbitrator shall decide the punishment. The choices are: a. an advisory letter to the complainant and the respondent within 7 days of the meeting b. a written reprimand to member within 7 days of the meeting c. withdrawal of membership from PRCA with final State Board acknowledgement (notification in writing to member immediately following the next State Board meeting) d. withdrawal of membership from PRCA with public censure with final State Board acknowledgement (notification in writing to member immediately following the next State Board meeting)
12 All records regarding Ethics Complaints will be dated on the outside of a sealed envelope and kept confidential. They will remain with the V.P. Projects/Ethics records in a sealed file for at least 2 years. After two years, the V.P. Projects/Ethics may decide to discard them or keep them, but they must remain sealed if maintained with PRCA files.
Copyright 2012 Public Relations Council of Alabama