Code of Ethics Pop Quiz: Code Enforcement

Code of Ethics Pop Quiz 5: Code Enforcement

Question

You receive notice that a professional standards complaint has been filed against you and your attendance is requested for a hearing. You believe that the complaint is completely unreasonable and think the whole hearing will be a waste of time as it will only make things worse between you and the other REALTOR® involved. Do you:

a.) Refuse to go — after all, you don’t think you did anything wrong.

b.) Go to the hearing and answer all the questions you are asked, providing full, honest testimony and elaborating only when necessary.

c.) Go the hearing and provide the committee with everything you know about this case, making sure to point out the opposing REALTOR’S® professional history and current personal troubles.

d.) Go to the hearing but only reply to questions with 1-word answers. That should move things along and maybe if they see you don’t want to be there, they will let you leave early.

 

Answer

If you answered B, then you are correct!

Our Code of Ethics requires that REALTORS® be willing participants in all professional standards proceedings, which includes providing all of the PERTINENT information to the review committee as well as not disrupting the proceedings through bad behavior. Remember, we all agree to follow this code — in good times and in bad. 

 

What does the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics say?

Article 14 states that REALTORS® should always supply the review committee with all relevant information in their possession and shall not obstruct the review proceeding.

If charged with unethical practice or asked to present evidence or to cooperate in any other way, in any professional standards proceeding or investigation, REALTORS® shall place all pertinent facts before the proper tribunals of the Member Board or affiliated institute, society, or council in which membership is held and shall take no action to disrupt or obstruct such processes.”

The idea of being a willing participant in Code of Ethics misconduct hearings is also touched on in the code’s preamble, which states:

“REALTORS® having direct personal knowledge of conduct that may violate the Code of Ethics involving misappropriation of client or customer funds or property, willful discrimination, or fraud resulting in substantial economic harm, bring such matters to the attention of the appropriate Board or Association of REALTORS®.”

If you have information about misconduct (whether yours or someone else’s), you are obligated to bring forward what you know, not to hurt others, but to protect the sanctity of the term REALTOR® and to ensure the best possible service for our clients.

Article 14 recognizes that it can be difficult to file a complaint against another colleague or feel like there might be repercussions against you for your testimony or support of an ethics hearing. With that in mind, standard 14-3 created protections for REALTORS® against retribution for their support of an ethics hearing, which includes protection again threats of action of libel or slander against the person who filed the complaint or against those who spoke at the hearings.

“REALTORS® shall not obstruct the Board’s investigative or professional standards proceedings by instituting or threatening to institute actions for libel, slander or defamation against any party to a professional standards proceeding or their witnesses based on the filing of an arbitration request, an ethics complaint, or testimony given before any tribunal.”

 

Additional Resources on Article 14:

 

Example Hearing:

Part 1: Opening Statements and Case Presentation

Part 2: Hearing Panel Calls a Recess

Part 3: Cross Examinations

Part 4: Closing Statements

Part 5: Hearing Panel in Executive Session

Part 6: BOD Reviews Decision

 

Example Appeal Process:

Part 1: Appeal Hearing

Part 2: Debriefing of the Appeal Hearing