New Procedures Address Member Disqualification

New procedures that address automatic revocation of NASW membership have been approved by the NASW National Board of Directors.

The new rules aim to streamline the process of removing membership for those with a felony conviction or who have had a state social work license revoked.

Dawn Hobdy, manager of NASW’s Office of Ethics and Professional Review, said the change is a result of removing the surrogate complaint process from the NASW Procedures for Professional Review. A surrogate complaint is a grievance submitted by a chapter based on information in the public domain.

Such cases will no longer be reviewed by the National Ethics Committee and the NASW National Executive Committee.

The rationale for removing the surrogate complaint process was based on several factors, including the nonparticipation of the respondent members and the limited number of documents typically available for review of such cases. For these reasons, questions were raised about the sufficiency of available evidence as a basis for making an ethics-based decision, said Sherri Morgan, associate counsel for the NASW Legal Defense Fund and the Office of Ethics and Professional Review. However, concerns about protection of the public remained and it was decided that felonies and licensure revocations are better addressed directly as membership issues.

Another revision to the NASW Procedures for Professional Review that aims to enhance consistency of outcomes and expedite the review process involves self-reporting, Hobdy said.

When a chapter becomes aware of a substantiated criminal or social work licensure violation by a social worker member based on information available in the public domain that has resulted in an action less than a felony conviction or revocation of a social work license, the chapter will forward the information to the national office for review.

The national office will notify the member, in writing, of the information received from the public domain, provide a recommendation that the member self-report and provide notice that failure to self-report within 30 days will result in automatic suspension of NASW membership. This will not require a review by the National Ethics Committee or NASW Executive Committee. Suspension of membership will be facilitated by the Office of Ethics and Professional Review and processed by membership services.

If a self-report is filed, the matter will be handled according to the process available under the Procedures for Professional Review, Revised.

The national office notification option assures that a member whose violation or conviction has become public knowledge (with the exception of license revocations and felonies) will be afforded an opportunity for review before automatic sanctions are implemented by NASW.