The Reporting Procedures outline the steps that any participant in the AMA community can take when they believe that they have encountered behavior that does not meet with the standards of the AMA Code of Conduct. This includes who to contact, what to expect as next steps, and guidance to AMA community entities (i.e. chapters, SIGs) for handling issues reported locally.
We encourage all members of the AMA community to speak up when they see behavior that is not in keeping with the AMA Code of Conduct. Only through addressing these issues can we continue to make the AMA a safe place for all.
We recognize that issues may be reported by someone experiencing an issue directly, but also by other observers. We thank anyone who speaks up regarding behavior not in keeping with the AMA Code of Conduct.
The AMA is committed to seeing all members of the AMA community treated fairly. As such, we do not assume guilt by accusation, and will thoroughly investigate any and all claims to ensure they are handled appropriately.
The following is a summary of the AMA’s documented Disciplinary Procedures, which appear in full text later in this document.
Who to Contact
Complaints and any other information of any kind from any source whatsoever concerning alleged violations of the Code of Conduct of the AMA should be submitted via the issue reporting form on ama.org. All issues are sent directly to the AMA Chief Executive Officer as Grievance Coordinator of the AMA.
All issues go directly to the AMA CEO regardless of where they originate. This applies if you are a chapter leader, council member, AMA employee, or a participant in any AMA activity. This is set up this way to ensure that any issues are handled consistently and fairly regardless of where the issue comes from.
If for any reason you are not comfortable contacting the AMA CEO, you may indicate so on the complaint form, and it will be routed to the Chair of the AMA Board of Directors. The Board Chair may assign another member of the Board such as the Board Treasurer or Chairperson of the Ethics Committee to act as Grievance Coordinator.
AMA Code of Conduct Issue Reporting Form
The AMA Code of Conduct Issue Reporting form is available at ama.org/ama-code-of-conduct-issue-reporting-form/
What to Expect
The Grievance Coordinator will appoint a Grievance Committee to investigate and act upon each allegation. The Grievance Committee will consist of the Grievance Coordinator and two other persons appointed by the Grievance Coordinator who are members of the Board or the Ethics Committee. The Grievance Committee will conduct a thorough investigation of the allegations to determine whether or not, in the opinion of the Grievance Committee, the conduct of the accused violated the AMA Code of Conduct.
The Grievance Committee may reach one of three conclusions:
- No disciplinary action
- Disciplinary action
- Referral to AMA Board of Directors
If disciplinary action is determined by the Grievance Committee, it can be one of four things:
- Admonishment – formal statement to the accused regarding the lack of compliance with the AMA Code of Conduct.
- Censure – formal restrictions placed on the member as determined by the Grievance Committee (e.g. prohibited from attending events for a period of time)
- Temporary suspension of membership
- Termination of membership
In addition to the above, as needed claims may be referred to law enforcement or another government or private agency or organization for investigation.
No director, officer, volunteer, or employee who in good faith reports a violation of the Code shall suffer harassment, retaliation, or adverse employment consequences. An AMA representative who retaliates against someone who has reported a violation in good faith is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment or membership. The structure of our Code of Conduct is intended to encourage and enable employees and others to raise serious concerns within the AMA.
Guidance to AMA Community Entities
AMA volunteer leaders, in their roles with a chapter or SIG, may be the first ones to hear about potential violations of the AMA Code of Conduct. Accordingly, guidance for volunteer leaders is as follows:
- Take claims seriously
- Take steps to ensure safety of the victim (as appropriate)
- Protect confidentiality
- Do not investigate on your own unless your chapter/SIG has a documented, approved, and published procedure for handling such claims. AMA Community entities who wish to adopt their own policy can model theirs after the AMA Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures.
- Refer claims to the AMA Chief Executive Officer as Grievance Coordinator, either via direct contact or via the complaint form on the AMA website. All claims will be investigated completely, fairly, and discretely.
Disciplinary Procedures of the American Marketing Association
ARTICLE I – GRIEVANCE COORDINATOR
1.1. Referral of Complaints. Complaints and any other information of any kind from any source whatsoever concerning alleged violations of the Codes of Conduct of the AMA (the “Codes” and individually, a “Code”) by any member of the AMA or participant in AMA activities (“Member”), shall be referred to the Chief Executive Officer as Grievance Coordinator of the AMA. Within 90 days after the receipt of any such matter (an “Allegation”), the Grievance Coordinator shall appoint a Grievance Committee to investigate and act upon the Allegation unless the Grievance Coordinator, with sole discretion, determines that the Allegation is of such nature that no further action or investigation is required, in which event no further action or investigation will be taken in connection therewith, except that the Grievance Coordinator may at any time refer the Allegation to any interested governmental or private agency.
1.2. Grievance Coordinator. The role of Grievance Coordinator may be fulfilled by a different individual if the AMA CEO is unable to act on a timely basis due to scheduling or other constraints. In this case, the AMA COO or other senior leader may be appointed as Grievance Coordinator.
If for any reason a Complainant does not feel comfortable forwarding a Complaint to the AMA CEO as Grievance Coordinator, then the Complaint may be forwarded to the Chairperson of the AMA Board of Directors (the “Board”). In this case, the Chairperson of the Board may appoint another individual to serve as Grievance Coordinator, such as the Board Treasurer or Chairperson of the Ethics Committee.
ARTICLE II – GRIEVANCE COMMITTEES
2.1. Appointment. Each Grievance Committee shall consist of the Grievance Coordinator and two other persons appointed by the Grievance Coordinator who are members of the Board, Ethics Committee, or one of the AMA Councils (as defined in the AMA Bylaws).
2.2. Notice to Respondent. Promptly upon the appointment of a Grievance Committee to investigate an Allegation against a Member (hereinafter, the “Respondent”), the Grievance Coordinator shall notify the Respondent of the appointment of such Grievance Committee and of the nature and source of the Allegation.
2.3. Vacancies. In the event that a member of a Grievance Committee cannot act, the Grievance Coordinator shall appoint another member of the Board or the Ethics Committee to serve.
2.4. Majority Rule. A Grievance Committee may act on the concurrence of a majority of its members.
2.5. Confidentiality. To the fullest extent possible, the Grievance Committee will protect the confidentiality of the Complainant and the Respondent. This may not always be possible in order to carry out a thorough investigation. The Grievance Coordinator will counsel in advance with the Grievance Committee, Complainant, and Respondent regarding any potential need to reveal confidential information, and obtain permission whenever possible. The Grievance Coordinator shall have final authority with respect to decisions on confidentiality, and will make such decisions keeping in mind the ultimate good that the investigation serves to create for the Complainant, Respondent, and AMA community at large.
ARTICLE III – INVESTIGATION PROCEDURE
3.1. Investigation. Each Grievance Committee shall conduct a thorough investigation of the Allegations referred to it to determine whether or not, in the opinion of the Grievance Committee, the conduct of the Respondent violated a Code. In addition, if a Grievance Committee, during its investigation, determines that the Respondent may have committed violations of a Code other than those set forth in the Allegations, the Grievance Committee may initiate such further investigation as it deems appropriate.
3.2. Grievance Committee Report. Upon completion of each investigation, the Grievance Committee shall prepare and file with the Grievance Coordinator a Grievance Committee Report (a “Report”), containing the following:
(a) A statement of the relevant facts;
(b) A summary of the procedures followed in making the investigation;
(c) The findings of the Grievance Committee, which shall include, if applicable, a statement of the particular provision or provisions of the Codes which the Grievance Committee deems to have been violated; and
(d) A conclusion in accordance with Section 3.3 below.
3.3. Permitted Conclusions. Each Report shall contain one of the following conclusions:
(a) That no disciplinary action be taken and that the file be closed; or
(b) That the Respondent be given the right to accept admonishment or censure (as defined in Section 4.5 below) in the form and substance and for the period of time set forth in the Report; or
(c) That a formal complaint be prepared and filed with the Board.
3.4. Action Subsequent to the Filing of a Grievance Committee Report. Upon the filing of a Report, the Grievance Coordinator or Grievance Committee shall take the applicable action set forth below:
(a) If the conclusion of the Report is that no disciplinary action be taken, the Grievance Coordinator shall so notify the Respondent and Complainant and shall close the file and retain it in the permanent records of the Grievance Coordinator.
(b) (i) If the conclusion of the Report is that the Respondent be given the right to accept admonishment or censure in the form and substance and for the period of time set forth in the Report, the Grievance Coordinator shall, within 20 days of the filing of the Report, forward a copy thereof to the Respondent, whereupon the Respondent shall have a period of 30 days from the date of receipt to advise the Grievance Coordinator, in writing, as to whether or not the Respondent elects to accept the proposed admonishment or censure.
(ii) If the Respondent elects to accept the proposed admonishment or censure, the Grievance Coordinator shall complete the disciplinary action.
(iii) If the Respondent elects not to accept the proposed admonishment or censure, or if a written response is not received by the Grievance Coordinator within the 30-day period allowed for this purpose, the Grievance Coordinator shall so advise the Grievance Committee, and, within 60 days after receipt of such advice, the Grievance Coordinator shall prepare a formal complaint and file it with the Board.
(iv) If the Report concludes that a formal complaint should be prepared and filed with the Board, then within 60 days after the date of filing of the Report the Grievance Coordinator shall prepare a formal complaint and file it with the Board.
(v) The formal complaint shall be deemed to be filed with the Board when it is received by the Chairperson of the Board (the “Chair”). Contemporaneously with filing the formal complaint with the Board, the Grievance Coordinator shall send a copy thereof, together with a copy of the Report, to the Respondent.
3.5. Publicity. After conclusion of a disciplinary proceeding in which the Respondent accepts censure, the AMA may give public notice of the facts and outcome of such proceeding.
3.6. Formal Complaint. Each formal complaint (“Complaint”) filed with the Board shall include the following:
(a) Allegations of Fact. The Respondent’s specific acts or failures to act which are alleged to violate a Code shall be set forth in such detail as to inform the Respondent of the facts relied upon as the basis for the Complaint.
(b) Relation to Code. Each Code provision which is alleged to have been violated by the Respondent shall be specified and related to the allegations of fact.
ARTICLE IV – BOARD PROCEDURES
4.1. Hearing Date. After the Complaint has been filed, the Chair shall set the date, time and place for hearing the Complaint (the “Hearing”), such date to be not more than three months after the date of filing of the Complaint. The Chair shall promptly give written notice to the Respondent and the Grievance Coordinator of such date, time and place, such notice to be given not less than 30 days prior to the Hearing date. For good cause, the Chair, independently or at the request of the Grievance Coordinator or of the Respondent, may accelerate or postpone the Hearing date from time to time; provided, however, that the Hearing date shall not be postponed to a date more than three months after the date of filing of the Complaint unless the Respondent and the Grievance Coordinator agree to such postponement. The AMA may give public notice of the time and place of the Hearing and a description of the matters set forth in the Complaint.
4.2. Hearing Procedure. The Hearing shall be conducted in accordance with rules which the Board may establish from time to time; provided, however, that the Hearing shall be conducted substantially as follows:
(i) The Grievance Coordinator, personally or through a representative, shall present the case against the Respondent by means of witnesses, other evidence and oral argument.
(ii) The Respondent shall be entitled to be represented by legal counsel and to present a defense by means of witnesses, other evidence and oral argument.
(iii) The Chair shall appoint a secretary, who need not be a member of the Board, to keep minutes of the Hearing. The Chair may record or engage a court reporter to record the proceedings. The Respondent, at their own expense, may record or engage a court reporter to record the proceedings.
(iv) The Chair shall have the power to compel any Member to attend the Hearing, produce evidence and give testimony.
(v) The Hearing shall be open to the public except to the extent that the Chair
imposes reasonable limitations to assure an orderly Hearing.
(vi) The Chair shall preside at the Hearing and shall have the power to require that the Hearing be conducted in an orderly fashion, to exclude irrelevant evidence, to limit the scope of examination of witnesses, and to rule on all procedural matters before, during and after the Hearing.
(vii) The decision of the Chair as to all procedural matters shall be final and not subject to appeal or review.
(viii) At any time during the Hearing, the members of the Board may ask questions of the Respondent, the Grievance Coordinator and the witnesses.
(ix) The Grievance Coordinator and the Respondent may enter into an agreement setting forth relevant facts not in dispute.
(x) The Board may but shall not be obligated to decide the matter without a Hearing if the Grievance Coordinator and the Respondent agree to waive the Hearing.
(xi) The matter may be settled by agreement between the Grievance Coordinator and the Respondent, provided that the terms of such settlement are approved by the Board.
(xii) If, because of illness, conflict of interest or other reason the Chair is unable to perform the functions of Chair in a particular case, the Chair (or if the Chair is unable to make such appointment, the Chairperson-Elect of the AMA) may appoint another member of the Board to act as interim Chair with all of the powers and duties of the Chair in the particular case.
4.3. Procedure Following the Hearing. The decision of the Board (the “Decision”) shall be rendered promptly, but in no event more than 30 days after completion of the Hearing. The Chair shall send a copy of the Decision to the Respondent and the Grievance Coordinator. The Decision shall be final and not subject to appeal or review.
4.4. Board Decision. Each Decision shall contain:
(a) A detailed finding of fact; and
(b) A specific determination as to which, if any, of the allegations of the Complaint have been proven; and if one or more such allegations has been proven, a statement of the disciplinary action to be imposed, and, if applicable, the period during which the disciplinary action is to be imposed. In making such determinations, the Board may take into account prior disciplinary action, if any, against the Respondent.
4.5. Disciplinary Action. Any one or more of the following disciplinary actions may be imposed:
(i) Admonishment. A formal statement to the Respondent, entered into the permanent records of the Grievance Coordinator, calling the attention of the Respondent to the Code violation(s).
(ii) Censure. A formal statement of restrictions to be placed on the Respondent for a period of time. For example a Respondent may be prohibited from attending any AMA events for a year.
(iii) Suspension. A temporary suspension of membership in the AMA for a period of not more than two years. During a suspension the member is prohibited from participating in any AMA activities (for example, attending events or meetings, receiving benefits of membership, or serving as a volunteer leader).
(iv) Termination of Membership. A complete termination of Membership in the AMA. A Respondent whose Membership has been terminated may not reapply for registration until the later of: (i) three years after the date of the Decision, or (ii) such date as may be specified in the Decision, which may be a lifetime prohibition.
(v) Referral. In addition to the disciplinary actions indicated above, if determined as necessary the matter may be referred to law enforcement, or any interested governmental or private agency or organization for investigation.
4.6. Publicity. After conclusion of a disciplinary proceeding filed with the Board, the AMA may give notice to the Complainant, or provide public notice of the facts and outcome of the proceeding.
ARTICLE V – PERMANENT RECORDS
5.1. Content. The permanent records of disciplinary proceedings of the AMA shall consist of the following:
(a) Correspondence from the Grievance Coordinator, the Board or the Chair specifically required or specifically permitted by these Disciplinary Procedures, and correspondence from the Respondent pursuant to Section 3.4(b)(i) above;
(b) The Reports of all Grievance Committees;
(c) All statements of admonishment or censure of a Member;
(d) The records of every disciplinary proceeding before the Board, including, but not limited to, the Complaint and other pleadings, correspondence to and from the Board, interim rulings by the Board, writings or other materials admitted into evidence by the Board, the stenographic or other record of the Hearing, and the Decision.
5.2. Assembly, Maintenance and Storage.
(a) The Grievance Coordinator shall be responsible to assemble and temporarily maintain the permanent records of all disciplinary matters which are processed during the Grievance Coordinator’s term of office but which do not reach the Board.
(b) The Chair shall be responsible to assemble and temporarily maintain the permanent records of all disciplinary matters which reach the Board during the Chair’s term of office.
(c) Upon expiration of the terms of their respective offices, the Grievance Coordinator and the Chair shall deliver to the archives of the AMA all permanent records which he or she is responsible to assemble and temporarily maintain.
(d) The COO of the AMA, under the supervision of the Board, shall be responsible for long-term storage of the permanent records of disciplinary proceedings of the AMA. The COO shall permit persons who have been determined by the Chair or other officer of the AMA to have a legitimate interest to inspect and copy the permanent records. Such persons might include (i) the Grievance Coordinator or a member of the Board, (ii) a Respondent or other person involved in a current disciplinary matter whose outcome could be affected by the precedent established in the archived matter, (iii) historical researchers, and (iv) others.
AMA Code of Conduct
The AMA Code of Conduct Reporting Procedures is a section of the overall AMA Code of Conduct.