Policies and ProceduresCommittee on Professional Ethics
American Sociological Association
(Approved by ASA membership in spring 1997)
Part II. Operating Rules of COPE
Part III. Enforcement of the Code of Ethics
These Policies and Procedures describe the responsibilities of the Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) of the American Sociological Association (ASA), the general operating rules of COPE, and the policies and procedures related to the submission and resolution of complaints of violations of the ASA Code of Ethics.
COPE has been established by the Council of ASA in order to promote ethical conduct by sociologists at the highest professional level through development and sponsorship of educational activities for ASA members and other sociologists, investigation of complaints concerning the ethical conduct of members of the ASA, and imposition of sanctions when a violation of the Code has occurred.
COPE is authorized to:
(a) Works with COPE in the administration of 2(a)-(g).
The members of COPE shall be appointed in accordance with the By-Laws of the Association. After the end of his/her term of office a member of COPE may continue to participate in the investigation of a matter to which he/she was previously assigned, and such member may participate in reaching the findings and recommendation of the Investigation Panel with respect to that matter.
The Chair and Co-Chair of COPE shall be appointed at the Council meeting held during the Annual Meeting of the Association and shall serve a term of one (1) year beginning on January 1 of the next calendar year. Prior to the Annual Meeting, COPE shall deliver to the Council its recommendations for the Chair and Co-Chair for the succeeding year. The Chair shall have primary responsibility for carrying out the mandate of COPE. The Co-Chair shall have the authority to perform all of the duties of the Chair when the latter is unavailable or unable to perform them, and shall perform other tasks as delegated by the Chair.
A regular meeting of COPE shall be held annually in connection with the Annual Meeting of the Association. Additional meetings may be held, upon the call of the Chair, from time to time in person or by telephone conference call.
A quorum for the transaction of business at any meeting of COPE shall consist of a majority of the members then in office. All decisions shall be by majority vote of the members present at a meeting.
Any action of COPE which could be taken at a meeting may be taken upon the affirmative vote, in writing or by electronic communication, of a majority of members then in office.
No member of COPE shall participate in the deliberations or decision of any matter with respect to which the member has a conflict of interest as outlined in the Code of Ethics.PART III. ENFORCEMENT OF THE CODE OF ETHICS
(a) COPE shall have jurisdiction to receive and determine any timely complaint of the
violation of the ASA Code of Ethics by a current member of ASA in any category of
membership whatsoever. In the event that a complainee resigns from ASA subsequent to the
filing of a complaint against him or her, COPE shall have discretion to resolve the
complaint as if the complainee were still a member.
(a) Any member or non-member of ASA who perceives that an ASA member has violated an
ethical standard may file a complaint with COPE.
(a) The Executive Officer or his/her designee shall screen each complaint to determine
whether the complainee is a member of the ASA and whether the alleged conduct is covered
by the Code. If the complaint does not include the information required by 2(e), the
Executive Officer or his/her designee shall so inform the complainant, who will be given
the opportunity to provide additional information. If no response is received from the
complainant within 30 days, the matter will be closed and the complainant so notified.
(a) If cause for action is found, the Executive Officer or his/her designee shall
provide a copy of the complaint and all supporting materials, and a copy of the Code of
Ethics and these Policies and Procedures, to the complainee and encourage a settlement
through informal means. If a method of informal dispute settlement is not otherwise
available to the complainant and complainee, a mediator who is not a member of COPE may be
recommended by the Executive Officer or his/her designee. Mediation services will in most
cases be by written correspondence or telephone. If informal dispute resolution is
declined, the members of COPE shall not be informed which party declined.
If either or both the complainant and complainee decline informal dispute settlement or if informal dispute settlement fails to resolve the complaint, the Executive Officer or his/her designee shall notify the complainee that the case will go forward in accordance with these Policies and Procedures. Complainee shall have 30 days after receipt of this notice to respond in writing to the complaint. An extension may be granted by the Executive Officer if good cause is shown, but the extension shall not exceed 90 days.
The complaint and response shall be submitted to the Chair of COPE for an initial determination whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the case. The Chair may, in his/her discretion, request additional information from the complainant and/or any other appropriate source before making the initial determination, provided, however, that the Chair shall not rely on such additional information unless it has been shared with the complainee, and the complainee has been afforded an opportunity to respond. If the Chair shall decide that there is insufficient evidence to proceed, the matter shall be closed and the complainant and complainee notified in writing.
If the Chair determines that there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the complaint, he/she shall appoint an Investigation Panel composed of the Chair or Co-Chair and two members of COPE to investigate the complaint. The Panel may communicate with the complainant, complainee, witnesses, or other sources of information necessary to carry out its functions. The Panel shall conduct as much of its business as is practical through written correspondence or verbal communication. Although complainants and complainees have the right to consult with attorneys concerning all phases of the ethics process, the complainant must file and the complainee must respond to charges of unethical conduct personally and not through legal counsel or another third party, unless the complainant or complainee provides good cause as to why he or she cannot respond personally. The Panel shall submit a written report of its findings and any recommendation for sanction to the full Committee within ninety (90) days, unless a longer period is necessary in the opinion of the Chair or Co-Chair. A copy of the Panel's findings and recommendation shall be provided to the complainant and complainee, who may submit a response in writing within a time frame of not more than 30 days.
COPE shall determine whether a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred on the basis of the complaint, the response, any other information provided to the Investigation Panel, the recommendation and findings of the Panel, and the responses of the parties thereto, provided, however, that COPE may hear the testimony of witnesses where in its view it is essential to the fairness of the proceeding. COPE may return any matter to the Investigation Panel for further investigation. Upon completion of its review, COPE shall issue a determination of whether one or more violations of the Code of Ethics have occurred, including a summary of the factual basis for this determination, and of the appropriate sanction.
In any case in which it has determined that a violation of the Code of Ethics has
occurred, COPE may impose no sanction or one or more of the following, as appropriate:
The Chair of COPE shall notify the complainant and complainee of the decision of COPE. If a sanction is imposed under 9(c) or 9(d), COPE shall instruct the Executive Officer to take the appropriate actions called for under COPE's determination, except that such notice shall be postponed if an appeal is filed as set forth in paragraph 11.
A complainee who is found by COPE to have violated the Code of Ethics and who receives a sanction under 9(b) through 9(d) may appeal this determination by filing a Notice of Appeal and Statement of Reasons no later than thirty (30) days after receipt of the Notice of Determination. If an appeal is filed, the President of ASA shall appoint a three-member Appeal Panel of past members of COPE to review all information considered by COPE and, within 90 days, make a decision to uphold or reverse the determination. The Appeal Panel may set aside COPE's determination that a violation has occurred or it may determine that the sanction imposed by COPE is not appropriate and impose a less severe sanction. The decision of the Appeal Panel shall constitute the final decision of ASA with respect to all matters subject to this paragraph.
(a) The filing of a complaint against an ASA member and all proceedings held under this
Part III shall be kept confidential by COPE, the Investigation Panel, the Appeal Panel and
the President of ASA prior to a final determination of the matter, except that information
regarding complaints may be shared with the Executive Officer, any staff designated by the
Executive Officer to assist COPE, and ASA legal counsel. Determinations of violations of
the Code of Ethics by COPE or by an Appeal Panel shall be kept confidential, except in the
case of termination of membership, or unless disclosure of the determination to the public
is imposed as part of another sanction. The name of each individual whose membership is
terminated and a brief statement of the reason for termination shall be reported annually
to ASA Council and in the official newsletter of ASA.
Note: These Policies and Procedures replace Section V of the 1989 edition of the American Sociological Association's Code of Ethics.
Last Updated on January 08, 2005