How To File a Complaint

Effective Monday, October 18, 2021, there will be a temporary moratorium on the review of new professional review cases. The National Office will accept complaints and date them upon receipt. However, for administrative reasons, all time frames for additional steps in the professional review process will be postponed through the beginning of February 2022. We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to continuing with your request in February 2022.

Many states have licensure laws that provide an avenue for filing a complaint of unprofessional conduct. You may consider filing a complaint with the social work licensing board in your state during the professional review moratorium.

Questions regarding current open cases can be addressed to Shana Swain, Professional Review Associate, Office of Ethics and Professional Review, at sswain.nasw@socialworkers.org.

Note: This moratorium does not impact professional review cases already in progress.

How to Complete and Submit a Request


1. Important! Find out if the social worker is a member of NASW

Contact our office via email at professionalreview@socialworkers.org with ONLY the following information:

  • First and last name of the social worker
  • Date of alleged violation(s)
  • City and state where the violation(s) occurred

Please send only one email. Do NOT include any attachments. The Office of Ethics and Professional Review (OEPR) will respond within fourteen (14) business days.

2. Once you have verified that the person is a member, please proceed with these next steps. Download and review the following:



3. Request technical assistance, if needed.


The Office of Ethics and Professional Review (OEPR) can provide guidance and technical assistance throughout the professional review process. However, the OEPR cannot advocate on the Complainant’s or Respondent’s behalf.

Technical assistance is not required in order to file a complaint, and there are no fees associated with the use of this assistance.


4. Complete the Request for Professional Review Form


Download the Request for Professional Review Form and complete the form in its entirety. A 3-page maximum Statement of Issue is to accompany the RPR.

  1. That statement must cite the specific standards of the NASW’s Code of Ethics that were allegedly violated.
  2. It must include a list of and a detailed description of materials to be used that will support the allegations.
  3. It must include a list of intended sources of evidence, and (if applicable)
  4. It must include the status of any legal action underway related to the matter.

Unless specified in the Procedures, please do not submit any additional documentation.

For guidance, please refer to Chapter 1 of the Procedures; “Who May File an RPR,” and “How to File an RPR,” and Chapter 4 of the Procedures; “Criteria for Acceptance”.

Complete the NASW Professional Review Confidentiality Pledge/Statement of Understanding form located on pages fifty-seven (57) and fifty-eight (58) of the Procedures, in its entirety. This form is a requirement for an RPR to be considered.

If the alleged misconduct occurred more than one (1) year (12 months) ago.  You will need to complete a Time Limits Waiver (TLW) form located on pages seventy-one (71) and seventy-two (72) of the Procedures, in its entirety. TLWs must be approved by the National Ethics Committee (NEC) prior to the RPR being reviewed by the NEC Intake Subcommittee. An approved time limits waiver may extend the time limit for submitting an RPR for up to one (1) additional year from the time that the alleged unethical conduct occurred. This requirement will result in a delay of consideration of the RPR for acceptance.

Once all the necessary forms are complete, please email your RPR packet to ProfessionalReview@socialworkers.org Attn: NEC Intake Subcommittee.

The named Respondent will have 14 business days to respond to the RPR. Please note whether the Respondent chooses to respond to the RPR or not, the professional review process will proceed.

Next Steps

5. Review

The Intake Subcommittee of the National Ethics Committee (NEC) will review the RPR in order to determine if the criteria for acceptance have been met.


6. Mediation or adjudication

If the RPR is accepted for review, the NEC Intake Subcommittee will determine whether the matter will be referred to mediation or adjudication.

Mediation: a collaborative problem-solving process in which a neutral third party guides a discussion intended to aid the parties in the dispute define the issues, obtain relevant information, and generate reasonable options for resolution.

Mediation is a conflict resolution process that is valued both as an element of social work practice and as a way to resolve grievances related to violations of ethics. Because mediation is a conflict resolution process in which the participants themselves decide on the outcome, NASW does not determine whether specific violations of the NASW Code of Ethics have or have not occurred.

Adjudication: the process of determining whether a professional action is in violation of the NASW Code of Ethics. When a RPR is referred for adjudication, a hearing is held to determine if the social worker’s action was indeed a violation of the Code. A report of the Hearing Panel’s conclusions is issued, and any appropriate recommendations are made.

7. Email any additional questions about the professional review process to the OEPR at professionalreview@socialworkers.org