Initiating an Ethics Hearing
Any person, whether a member or not, having reason to believe that a member is guilty of any conduct subject to disciplinary action, may file a complaint in writing in their own name with the Secretary, dated and signed by complainant, stating the facts on which it is based (Form #E-1, Complaint, Part Six), provided that the complaint is filed within one hundred eighty (180) days after the facts constituting the matter complained of could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence or within one hundred eighty (180) days after the conclusion of the transaction or event, whichever is later.
The procedures for processing complaints alleging violations of an Association’s bylaws prohibiting harassment are available on-line at REALTOR.org, and those procedures do not involve an Association’s Grievance Committee, Professional Standards Committee, or Board of Directors.
Suspension of filing deadlines: If the Board’s informal dispute resolution processes (e.g., ombudsman, mediation, etc.) are invoked or initiated by a complainant (or potential complainant) with respect to conduct that becomes the subject of a subsequent ethics complaint, the one hundred eighty (180) day filing deadline shall be suspended beginning with the date of the complainant’s (or potential complainant’s) request for informal dispute resolution service or assistance and shall resume when the informal dispute resolution procedures are concluded or terminated. Questions about when informal dispute resolution began or ended will be determined by the Board President or the President’s designee. The filing deadline shall also be suspended during any period when the respondent does not hold REALTOR® or REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® membership.
The Secretary shall promptly refer any complaint to the Chairperson of the Grievance Committee, who may designate one or more members of the Grievance Committee to review the complaint and report their findings to the Grievance Committee for its determination as to whether to (1) dismiss the complaint as unworthy of further consideration, (2) refer it back to the complainant as appropriate for arbitration rather than disciplinary action, or (3) refer it back to the Secretary to schedule for hearing. This review process may include additional information other than the written complaint itself only if necessary to determine whether a complaint will be referring for hearing. The Grievance Committee may, if it thinks it appropriate, send a copy of the complaint to the party complained of and require the respondent to furnish it with a response before making its determination. (See Form #E-4, Grievance Committee Request for Information [Ethics Complaint] and Form #E-5, Response to Grievance Committee Request for Information, Part Six of this Manual). The party complained of shall be advised that failure to respond to the Grievance Committee’s request may result in the complaint being forwarded for a hearing and may subject the respondent to a charge of having violated Article 14 for failing to submit pertinent facts to an appropriate tribunal. The function of the Grievance Committee is to make only such preliminary review and evaluation of the complaint as are required to determine whether the complaint warrants further consideration by a Hearing Panel of the Professional Standards Committee. The Grievance Committee does not conduct hearings and does not determine if a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred.
When Grievance Committees refer ethics complaints and arbitration requests for hearing, hearing panel chairs can determine if questions about
- whether ethics complaints and arbitration requests are timely filed,
- whether arbitrable issues exist,
- whether arbitration requests are too legally complex to be fairly arbitrated, and
- other administrative issues
will be addressed through a pre-hearing meeting of the hearing panel or at the outset of the hearing prior to testimony relating to the ethics complaint or arbitration request commencing. If these matters rise during a hearing, the hearing panel will address them at that time.
Dismissals of ethics complaints and arbitration requests by hearing panels can be appealed to the Board of Directors on the same bases as dismissals by the Grievance Committee.