Code of Conduct Disciplinary Policy

ESPCC Disciplinary Policy 400

Approved October 28, 2011

In order to maintain and enhance the credibility of the ESPCC CESP™ certification program, the ESPCC has adopted the following procedures to allow individuals to bring complaints concerning the conduct of individuals who are CESP™ candidates or credential holders’ to the ESPCC.

In the event, an individual candidate or credential holders violates the ESPCC Code of Conduct, CESP™ certification rules, or ESPCC policies the ESPCC may reprimand or suspend the individual or may revoke certification.

The grounds for sanctions under these procedures may include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  1. Violation of the ESPCC Code of Conduct.
  2. Violation of established ESPCC policies, rules and requirements.
  3. Conviction of a felony or other crime of moral turpitude under federal or state law in a matter related to the practice of, or qualifications for, employment support services.
  4. Gross negligence, willful misconduct, or other unethical conduct in the performance of services for which the individual has achieved ESPCC CESP™ certification.
  5. Fraud or misrepresentation in an initial application or renewal application for ESPCC certification.

Actions taken under this policy do not constitute enforcement of the law, although referral to appropriate federal, state, or local government agencies may be made about the conduct of the candidate or credential holder in appropriate situations. Individuals initially bringing complaints are not entitled to any relief or damages by virtue of this process, although they will receive notice of the actions taken.

Complaints may be submitted by any individual or entity. Complaints should be reported to ESPCC in writing and should include the name of the person submitting the complaint, the name of the person the complaint is regarding along with other relevant identifying information, a detailed description of factual allegations supporting the charges, and any relevant supporting documentation. Information submitted during the complaint and investigation process is considered confidential and will be handled in accordance with ESPCC’s Confidentiality policy. Inquiries or submissions other than complaints may be reviewed and handled by the ESPCC or its staff members at its discretion.

Upon receipt and preliminary review of a complaint involving the CESP™ certification program the ESPCC Certification Director in consultation with the Certification Council Chair may conclude, in their sole discretion, that the submission:

  1. contains unreliable or insufficient information, or
  2. is patently frivolous or inconsequential.

In such cases, the Certification Director and Chair may determine that the submission does not constitute a valid and actionable complaint that would justify bringing it before the ESPCC Certification Council for investigation and a determination of whether there has been a violation of substantive requirements of the certification process. If so, the submission is disposed of by notice from the Director and Chair to its submitter, if the submitter is identified. All such preliminary dispositions by the Chair are reported to the ESPCC at its next meeting. The preliminary review will be conducted within 15 business days of receipt of the complaint.

If a submission is deemed by the Chair to be a valid and actionable complaint, the Chair shall see that written notice is provided to the candidate/credential holder whose conduct has been called into question. The candidate/credential holder whose conduct is at issue shall also be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint. The Chair also shall ensure that the individual submitting the complaint receives notice that the complaint is being reviewed by the ESPCC.

Complaint Review

For each complaint that the Chair concludes is a valid and actionable complaint, the ESPCC authorizes an investigation into its specific facts or circumstances to whatever extent is necessary in order to clarify, expand, or corroborate the information provided by the submitter.

The Chair appoints a Review Committee of three or more individuals, who may or may not be members of the ESPCC to investigate and make an appropriate determination with respect to each such valid and actionable complaint; the Review Committee may review one or more such complaints as determined by the Chair. The Review Committee initially determines whether it is appropriate to review the complaint under these Procedures or whether the matter should be referred to another entity engaged in the administration of law. The timeline for responses and for providing any additional information shall be established by the Review Committee. The Review Committee may be assisted in the conduct of its investigation by other members of the ESPCC or by ESPCC and/or APSE staff or legal counsel. The Chair exercises general supervision over all investigations.

Both the individual submitting the complaint and the candidate/credential holder who is the subject of the investigation (or his or her employer) may be contacted for additional information with respect to the complaint. The Review Committee, or the ESPCC on its behalf, may at its discretion contact such other individuals who may have knowledge of the facts and circumstances surrounding the complaint.

All investigations and deliberations of the Review Committee and the ESPCC are conducted in confidence, with all written communications sealed and marked "Personal and Confidential," and they are conducted objectively, without any indication of prejudgment. An investigation may be directed toward any aspect of a complaint which is relevant or potentially relevant. Formal hearings are not held and the parties are not expected to be represented by counsel, although the Review Committee and ESPCC may consult their own counsel.

Members of the Review Committee shall be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the activities of the Committee.

Upon completion of an investigation, the Review Committee recommends whether the ESPCC should make a determination that there has been a violation of ESPCC policies and rules. When the Review Committee recommends that the ESPCC find a violation, the Review Committee also recommends imposition of an appropriate sanction. If the Review Committee so recommends, a proposed determination with a proposed sanction is prepared under the supervision of the Chair and is presented by a representative of the Review Committee to the ESPCC along with the record of the Review Committee's investigation.

If the Review Committee recommends against a determination that a violation has occurred, the complaint is dismissed with notice to the candidate/credential holder, the candidate/credential holders employer (if involved in the investigation), and the individual or entity who submitted the complaint; a summary report is also made to the ESPCC.

The ESPCC reviews the recommendation of the Review Committee based upon the record of the investigation. The ESPCC may accept, reject, or modify the Review Committee's recommendation, either with respect to the determination of a violation or the recommended sanction to be imposed. If the ESPCC makes a determination that a violation has occurred, this determination and the imposition of a sanction are promulgated by written notice to the candidate/credential holder, and to the individual submitting the complaint, if the submitter agrees in advance and in writing to maintain in confidence whatever portion of the information is not made public by the ESPCC. All determinations by the ESPCC that violations have occurred shall be reported to the APSE Board of Directors by the Chair of the ESPCC.

In certain circumstances, the ESPCC may consider a recommendation from the Review Committee that the candidate/credential holder who has violated the certification program policies or rules should be offered an opportunity to submit a written assurance that the conduct in question has been terminated and will not recur. The decision of the Review Committee to make such a recommendation and of the ESPCC to accept it are within their respective discretionary powers. If such an offer is extended, the candidate/credential holder at issue must submit the required written assurance within thirty days of receipt of the offer, and the assurance must be submitted in terms that are acceptable to the ESPCC. If the ESPCC accepts the assurance, notice is given to the candidate/credential holders employer and to the submitter of the complaint, if the submitter agrees in advance and in writing to maintain the information in confidence.


Any of the following sanctions may be imposed by the ESPCC upon a candidate/credential holder whom the ESPCC has determined to have violated the policies and rules of its certification program(s), although the sanction applied must reasonably relate to the nature and severity of the violation, focusing on reformation of the conduct of the member and deterrence of similar conduct by others:

  1. written reprimand to the candidate/credential holder;  
  2. suspension of the credential holder for a designated period; or 
  3. suspension of the candidate’s application eligibility for a designated period; or
  4. termination of the credential holder's certification from the ESPCC; or 
  5. termination of the candidate’s application eligibility for a designated period.

For sanctions that include suspension or termination, a summary of the final determination and the sanction with the candidate/credential holders name and date is published by the ESPCC. This information will be published only after any appeal has either been considered or the appeal period has passed.

Reprimand in the form of a written notice from the Chair normally is sent to a candidate/credential holder who has received his or her first substantiated complaint. Suspension normally is imposed on a candidate/credential holder who has received two substantiated complaints. Termination normally is imposed on a candidate/certificant who has received two substantiated complaints within a two year period, or three or more substantiated complaints. The ESPCC may at its discretion, however, impose any of the sanctions, if warranted, in specific cases.

Certificants who have been terminated shall have their certification revoked and may not be considered for ESPCC certification in the future. If certification is revoked, any and all certificates or other materials requested by the ESPCC must be returned promptly to the ESPCC.


Within thirty (30) days from receipt of notice of a determination by the ESPCC that a candidate/ certificant violated the certification program policies and/or rules, the affected candidate/certificant may submit to the ESPCC in writing a request for an appeal.

Upon receipt of a request for appeal, the Chair of the ESPCC establishes an appellate body consisting of at least three, but not more than five, individuals. This Appeal Committee may review one or more appeals, upon request of the Chair. No current members of the Review Committee or the ESPCC may serve on the Appeal Committee; further, no one with any personal involvement or conflict of interest may serve on the Appeal Committee. Members of the Appeal Committee may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the activities of the Committee.

The Appeal Committee may only review whether the determination by the ESPCC of a violation of the certification program policies and/or rules was inappropriate because of:

  1. material errors of fact, or 
  2. failure of the Review Committee or the ESPCC to conform to published criteria, policies, or procedures.

Only facts and conditions up to and including the time of the ESPCC’s determination as represented by facts known to the ESPCC are considered during an appeal. The appeal shall not include a hearing or any similar trial-type proceeding. Legal counsel is not expected to participate in the appeal process, unless requested by the appellant and approved by the ESPCC and the Appeal Committee. The ESPCC and Appeal Committee may consult legal counsel.

The Appeal Committee conducts and completes the appeal within ninety days after receipt of the request for an appeal. Written appellate submissions and any reply submissions may be made by authorized representatives of the member and of the ESPCC. Submissions are made according to whatever schedule is reasonably established by the Appeal Committee. The decision of the Appeal Committee either affirms or overrules the determination of the ESPCC, but does not address a sanction imposed by the ESPCC. The decision of the Appeal Committee, including a statement of the reasons for the decision, is reported to the ESPCC and the APSE Board of Directors.

The Appeal Committee decision is binding upon the ESPCC, the candidate/certificant who is subject to the termination, and all other persons.


If a certificant who is the subject of a complaint voluntarily surrenders his or her ESPCC certification at any time during the pendency of a complaint under these Procedures, the complaint is dismissed without any further action by the Review Committee, the ESPCC, or an Appeal Committee established after an appeal. The entire record is sealed and the individual may not reapply for certification by the ESPCC. However, the ESPCC may authorize the Chair to communicate the fact and date of resignation, and the fact and general nature of the complaint which was pending at the time of the resignation, to or at the request of a government entity engaged in the administration of law. Similarly, in the event of such resignation, the certificant's employer and the person or entity who submitted the complaint are notified of the fact and date of resignation and that ESPCC has dismissed the complaint as a result.

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