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C.A.R. Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual (Summary)

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(a) 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 #D-1, Complaint, Part three), 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 referred for hearing. 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 for hearing, the hearing panel can determine:
   •  whether ethics complaints are timely filed,
   •  whether arbitrable issues exist,
   •  whether arbitration requests are too legally complex to be fairly arbitrated, and
   •  other administrative issues
Dismissals of ethics complaints by hearing panels can be appealed to the Board of Directors on the same bases as dismissals by the Grievance Committee.

Any proceeding convened to resolve such issues must include all of the procedural due process safeguards required for ethics and arbitration hearings.

In the event the complaint is from a client, customer, or a member of the general public, and the Grievance Committee determines that the complaint is vague or is overly general, a member of the Grievance Committee may be assigned by the Chairperson of the Grievance Committee to assist the complainant in preparing the complaint in proper form. The member providing such assistance shall not participate in any consideration or deliberations of the Grievance Committee with respect to the matter. In such cases, the respondent shall receive the revised complaint with the original complaint and all other supporting documentation provided by the complainant incorporated as an appendix.

(b) Upon its own motion the Grievance Committee may, and upon instruction of the Directors must, review the actions of any member when there is reason to believe that the member's conduct may be subject to disciplinary action, and, if the evidence of unethical conduct warrants a hearing, shall prepare a complaint, refer it to the Secretary, and designate one of its members to present the case at the subsequent hearing on its behalf as complainant. However, no member of the Grievance Committee shall serve as a member of the Hearing Panel.

(c) Any action by the Grievance Committee dismissing the complaint as unworthy of further consideration may be appealed to the Board of Directors within twenty (20) days from receipt of the dismissal notice using Form #E-22, Appeal of Grievance Committee Dismissal of Ethics Complaint. The materials and information which were available to the Grievance Committee when the committee made its decision will be presented to the Directors and considered with the appeal. The complainant and respondent do not have the right to appear at the hearing before the Directors. The complaint and any attachments to the complaint may not be revised, modified, or supplemented. The complainant may, however, explain in writing why the complainant disagrees with the Grievance Committee’s conclusion that the complaint should be dismissed. If the Directors determine that the complaint was improperly dismissed by the Grievance Committee, they shall refer it to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing. If referred for hearing, the Secretary shall at that time provide a copy of the response to the complainant.

The President may appoint a panel of Directors, acting on behalf of the Board of Directors, to hear the appeal. Any appeal panel so appointed must be composed of at least three (3) Directors or a quorum of the Board of Directors, whichever is less. The decision of the appeal panel is final and binding and is not subject to further review by the Board of Directors.

(d) If the complaint asserts multiple allegations of unethical conduct and the Grievance Committee determines that one or more of the allegations would not, under any circumstances, constitute a violation, that portion of the complaint may be dismissed while the balance of the complaint is forwarded for a hearing before a Hearing Panel of the Professional Standards Committee. However, the complainant has the right to appeal the dismissal to the Board of Directors. The complaint and any attachments to the complaint cannot be revised, modified, or supplemented. The complainant may, however, explain in writing why the complainant disagrees with the Grievance Committee’s dismissal.

If the Grievance Committee feels that the respondent’s alleged conduct may be the basis for a violation but that an inappropriate Article(s) has been cited, the Grievance Committee may amend the complaint by deleting any inappropriate Article(s) and by adding any appropriate Article(s) and/or individuals to the complaint. If the complainant disagrees with the deletion of an Article(s) from the complaint, the complainant may appeal to the Board of Directors requesting that the original complaint be forwarded to a Hearing Panel as filed. The complaint and any attachments to the complaint cannot be revised, modified, or supplemented. The complainant may, however, explain in writing why the complainant disagrees with the Grievance Committee’s dismissal. If the Grievance Committee determines that an Article(s) or an additional respondent(s) should be added to the complaint and the complainant will not agree to the addition, the Grievance Committee may file its own complaint and both complaints will be heard simultaneously by the same Hearing Panel.

(e) If an ethics respondent resigns or otherwise causes membership in the Board to terminate after an ethics complaint is filed but before final action is taken by the Board of Directors, the Board Secretary shall cause the complaint to be forwarded to another Board in which the respondent continues to hold membership.  If the respondent does not hold membership in another Board, or if the Board Secretary is unable to determine if the respondent holds membership in another Board, the Board will still process the complaint and conduct the hearing.  However, any discipline imposed will be held in abeyance until the violator rejoins an Association of REALTORS®.  In any instance where a complaint is transferred to another Board, the complainant shall be so advised.

NOTE: Adoption of Code of Ethics Citation Policy is an option of the Board.


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