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Helpful Facts About the SHRM Member Discipline Process

As is the case with many professional societies, SHRM sets forth member discipline procedures in its bylaws (see Article II Section 5 at the link below).
http://www.shrm.org/bylaws/ 

Eligible Complaints

To be eligible for consideration as a member discipline complaint a complaint must: 

  • Involve an action which discredits or embarrasses the profession or the Society, violates the SHRM Bylaws, or otherwise is not in the best interests of the Society.
  • Be made by a SHRM member (or be a matter of public notice, such as a criminal conviction, which is brought to the attention of the SHRM Ethics officer);
  • Be against a SHRM member;
  • Involve an action which occurred when the Respondent (i.e., the SHRM member who is the subject of the complaint) was a SHRM member;
  • Have either (i) occurred within 3 years of the matter being referred to the SHRM Review Committee; or (ii) resulted in a court judgment within 2 years of having been referred to the SHRM Review Committee.

Appropriate Complaints

Not all eligible complaints for member discipline are appropriate for member discipline; and common sense must be used before invoking the SHRM member discipline procedures.  In particular typical disputes between an employee and his or her employer are much better resolved through internal employer dispute resolution processes, third party confidential ombudsman channels made available by many employers, or other dispute resolution vehicles.  SHRM members should at the very least consider exhausting such avenues before considering use of the SHRM member discipline procedures to deal with such matters.  SHRM’s procedures give the SHRM Ethics Officer the authority to dismiss complaints such as routine employee/employer disputes as being inappropriate for SHRM member discipline proceedings. 

In addition, SHRM members should never file a complaint against another member for purposes of gaining personal advantage in a dispute with such member.  Indeed, a  complaint containing intentional falsehoods or brought with intent to harass may itself be a basis for member discipline.  Complainants (i.e., the SHRM member(s) bringing the complaint) must always be careful to be objective, complete, and accurate in any complaints they file. Such a practice will protect the Complainant and SHRM against potential defamation claims.   

Any questions concerning whether a potential complaint is eligible or appropriate under the SHRM member Discipline Procedures can be directed to SHRM Ethics Officer Henry A. Hart, Esq. at hhart@shrm.org.

 The Complaint Process 

  • To initiate a complaint a member should file a written complaint with the SHRM Ethics Officer at the address below.  The complaint should state with specificity the facts which merit member discipline, and any judicial proceedings concerning the matter which are ongoing or which have produced judgments or other decisions relevant to the complaint.  Any alleged violations of the SHRM Code of Ethics must identify Code provisions which have been violated.  See SHRM Member Discipline Complaint Form and Instructions.
  • The SHRM Ethics officer shall attempt to resolve the matter within 30 days by talking to the Complainant and the Respondent member.
  • If unable to resolve the matter, and if he determines that the matter would merit discipline if true, the Ethics Officer shall turn the matter over to the SHRM Review Committee of the Board of Directors along with a written report.
  • The Review Committee shall then investigate the matter, including making further attempts to resolve the matter.  The Review Committee shall then either resolve the matter, dismiss the matter upon finding that probable cause does not exist that the actions in question merit discipline, or issue a written finding to the SHRM Hearing Committee that such probable cause does exist.
  • Upon receipt of a probable cause finding from the Review Committee, the Hearing Committee will then conduct a due process hearing on the complaint with prior notice to the Complainant and Respondent.  The Respondent has the right to attend such hearing with counsel.  The Complainant is required to attend such hearing for the matter to proceed.
  • Within 30 days of the hearing the Hearing Committee shall either dismiss the complaint or impose discipline, with notice to Complainant and Respondent.
  • Discipline may include any or all of the following: requirement to take education courses, written reprimand, requirement of written apology, suspension or expulsion from SHRM membership, ban from holding office in, or speaking at events of, SHRM or its chapters and state councils.

For further information on the SHRM member discipline process contact:

Henry A.  Hart, Esq.
General Counsel /Ethics Officer
Society for Human Resource Management
1800 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-3499 USA
Phone: 703-535-6005
E-mail: hhart@shrm.org