Complaint Process

NASW is required to handle any complaint in accordance with the process outlined in the NASW constitution and bylaws, Article VII, available at www.nasw.org/constitution-and-bylaws-national-association-science-writers-inc.

NASW’s complaint process is intended to support an inclusive organization that fosters the interpretation of science and its meaning to society, in keeping with the highest standards of journalism. The complaint process seeks to, in the areas and circumstances in which NASW is able, reduce harms to individuals, to the community, to the organization, and to the field via a deliberate, fact-based decision-making process that was developed and approved by members. This multi-step process is likely to proceed slowly over the course of months rather than days due to a variety of factors, including its nature and the reliance on volunteers. Those participating in administering the complaint process on behalf of NASW are committed to upholding the integrity of the process, including the provision that complaints remain confidential to the extent allowed by circumstances or the law, consistent with NASW’s need to investigate, correct, and prevent misconduct.

If one or more members of the Association (the “Reporter”) believes in good faith that the conduct of a member (the “Subject”) is substantially prejudicial to the best interests of the Association, the Reporter may deliver a signed, written complaint (a “Complaint”) to the Executive Director or to any Board member (the “Administrator”). Substantially prejudicial conduct may include, but is not limited to, actions contrary to NASW’s Code of Ethics, Operating Principles, or Conference and Meeting Code of Conduct.

Complaints may be submitted by someone who is directly affected or who is indirectly affected by the conduct at issue. Third-party complaints are permitted by those with direct knowledge of the circumstances (e.g., a bystander, witness, or someone else who knows of the conduct via a news report or other means). Only one member is required to submit a complaint. Direct knowledge possessed by others may be shared in any investigation, though an additional Reporter(s) with direct knowledge may be listed. Complaints may be submitted by non-members and will be considered per Article VII, Section 4b.

The Complaint should contain

  • The name of the individual (s) submitting the allegation, i.e. the Reporter(s).

  • The name of the member(s) alleged to have committed the substantially prejudicial conduct, i.e. the Subject(s).

  • A description of the allegation that includes the date(s) and circumstances of the alleged substantially prejudicial conduct.

  • Any documents or other relevant items (such as screenshots, etc.) with annotation specifying how the document or item relates to the allegation.

  • A written explanation of how the allegation relates to substantially prejudicial conduct as noted above.

  • If applicable: A statement explaining any conflict(s) of interest the person(s) making the allegation has with the Subject(s), entity(ies), or situation(s) named in the allegation. A conflict of interest does NOT preclude the filing of an allegation.

Complaints should be emailed to NASW’s Executive Director, director@nasw.org, or to any current Board member.

A preliminary investigation will consider the existence of a credible question(s) that concerns whether a person engaged in particular conduct—or whether particular conduct is unprofessional and unethical—or both. Typically, for a credible question to exist, there would be enough facts known to NASW to warrant proceeding and conducting an informal or formal review of the questioned conduct and whether the facts are true, accurate, and complete. A credible question does not represent a conclusion about any person.

By accepting submission of complaints, investigating complaints, or by imposing temporary measures based on a credible question of professional and ethical conduct alleging a violation of any applicable policies, NASW is not making a judgment that the Subject(s) violated any policy and any statement or action to the contrary is not authorized by NASW. In these circumstances, before fact-finding is completed, NASW prioritizes preventative safety measures in the interest of the Association’s mission and the many it serves, over the interests of one or a few, if the two must be weighed.

Complaints will be handled with sensitivity and discretion. Complaints will remain confidential to the extent allowed by the circumstances and the law, consistent with NASW’s need to investigate, correct, and prevent misconduct. Anyone who receives information as part of an NASW investigation must maintain its confidentiality; failure to do so is a serious violation of the integrity of the complaint process, as is retaliation against any identified individual target, witness, or anyone who raises or helps resolve a conduct concern.

The full complaint process is outlined in NASW’s bylaws: www.nasw.org/constitution-and-bylaws-national-association-science-writers-inc

This information was developed in part with a model policy developed and copyrighted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for the benefit of and sponsored by the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment In STEMM; original created by EducationCounsel LLC. This does not imply that the American Association for the Advancement of Science, EducationCounsel LLC, or the Consortium endorse its use or any changes made.

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