Policy for Membership Denial and Disciplinary Procedures
The procedures established in these Rules shall govern proceedings concerning membership in the Association conducted by the Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee or any other body designated by the Board of Directors. The procedures set forth in these Rules are subordinate to the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of the AAEP. In the event of any conflict between these Rules and the provisions of the Articles of Incorporation or the Bylaws, the latter shall prevail.
Professional ethics embodies the behaviors of honesty, integrity and kindness while obeying rules and regulations set forth with mutual respect for opinion and preservation of dignity in interpersonal relationships. The conduct should be in a manner that will enhance the worthiness of the profession. The ethical practice of medicine includes those remedies and treatments that have, as their short or long-term goal, the health and welfare of the horse. All members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners are expected to comply with (a) the Code of Ethics of the American Veterinary Medical Association (or counterpart in foreign countries); (b) the AAEP’s Ethical and Professional Guidelines, Bylaws and procedures of their enforcement; (c) the Code of Ethics of the veterinary medical association of the state or province in which licensed; (d) all rules and regulations of racing applicable at race tracks where practicing; (e) rules of organizations governing horse shows, sales, equine events and the rules of all breed registries in relation to veterinary practices; and (f) all other laws of the land. Members and veterinarians should be honest and fair in their relations with others, and they should not engage in fraud, misrepresentation or deceit. Violation of any of the foregoing may constitute cause for revocation or denial of membership in the AAEP. There is a process for members to file complaints against other members. Each case involving an AAEP member is reviewed by the AAEP Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee; in its discretion, the committee may make recommendations to the parties involved, up to, and including, disciplinary action.
Section 1: As used herein, these terms shall have the following meaning:
Action: either or both of an Application Review or the evaluation of a Complaint by the Committee.
Applicant: a person who has completed and filed a new or renewal application for membership in the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Application Review: a review by the Committee of an application for membership in the Association.
Association: the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Board: the Board of Directors of the Association, minus the Officers.
Bylaws: the Bylaws of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Chairman: the Chairman of the Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee.
Complaint: a grievance filed against a Member pursuant to Article 2, Section 2.3 or 2.4.
Complainant: a person who has made a Complaint against a Member pursuant to the procedures set forth herein.
Committee: the Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee.
Disciplinary Action: action taken by the Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee against a member of the Association in response to a Complaint. It includes any recommendations affecting membership
Executive Director: the Executive Director of the Association.
Hearing: a meeting conducted by the Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee in which dismissal, Disciplinary Action and/or cancellation of membership may result, as defined in Article 4.
Members: the members of the Association.
Officers: the Officers of the Association, except the Executive
Director, as outlined in Article IV of the Articles of Incorporation.
Party: the Complainant or Respondent in a disciplinary proceeding referred to herein. Petitioner: an Applicant or Respondent requesting a rehearing.
Regulatory Action: fines, probation, suspension or revocation taken against a veterinary or race track license by a regulatory agency; or formal disciplinary action taken by organizations governing horse shows,sales and equine events and breed registries in relation to the practice of veterinary medicine.
Respondent: a Member against whom a Complaint has been made.
Revocation: Revocation of AAEP membership is defined as an immediate action to terminate AAEP membership, which cannot thereafter be renewed or restored, but only replaced upon application for new membership.
Suspension: Suspension is a temporary withdrawal of a person’s AAEP membership for a specified period of time and often contingent upon other conditions being met before membership is restored.
INITIATION AND FILING OF ACTIONS
Section 2.1: The Executive Director, on behalf of the Association, may initiate an Application Review by the Committee of any Applicant for new membership or for renewal of AAEP membership who has failed to report Regulatory Action as set forth in the Bylaws Article IVSection 3(b)(1) through 3(b)(3) and Article IV Section 3(b)(4) through 3(b)(6).
Section 2.2: In addition to initiating an Application Review pursuant to Section 2.1 , the Executive Director, on behalf of the Association, may initiate a complaint against any activemember, pursuant to the grounds set forth in the Bylaws Article IV Section 3(b)(i) through 3(b)(vii).
Section 2.3: Any Member in good standing may file a Complaint against any Member. The Complaint must be: (a) in writing and name the Respondent, (b) dated and signed by the Complainant, (c) addressed to the Executive Director, and (d) contain ground(s) for the Complaint as set forth in the Bylaws Article IV Section 3(b)(i) through 3(b)(vii).
As stated in the preamble the committee, in its discretion, may make recommendations to the parties involved up to, and including, disciplinary action
Section 2.4: The initiation of any Action must be set forth to the Committee in writing and include the name of the Applicant or Complainant, as the case may be, and the
circumstances giving rise to the initiation of the Action. The Executive Director, on behalf ofthe Association, or the Complainant, as the case may be, must be prepared to substantiate the grounds for pursuing the Action with sworn statements, witnesses or other evidence.
Section 2.5: Suspension or revocation of AAEP membership is allowed in certain circumstances, as set forth below.
PROCEDURES FOR EVALUATING AND PROVIDING NOTICE OF ACTIONS
Section 3.1: An Applicant or Respondent in any Action shall receive a notice of the Action. This notice shall contain a copy of the materials giving rise to the Action, including the grounds on which it is based, and a statement to the Applicant or Respondent, as the case may be, that he or she has the right to file two copies of a written response with the Executive Director within 30 days of the date of the notice. The notice shall inform the Applicant or Respondent, as the case may be, that communication
regarding the matter with members of the Committee or members of the Board of Directors is prohibited with the exception of the Executive Director and the Committee
Chair as provided for in Article 7, Section 7.3 below. The notice shall also state that if Applicant or Respondent does not file a response, the charges may be taken as
true by default. A response filed without objection by an Applicant or Respondent, as the case may be, shall constitute a waiver of any defect in the notice.
Section 3.2: The Executive Director or his designee may pursue such investigation into the facts underlying the Action as may be reasonably necessary for the Committee to consider the merits and validity of the grounds for the Action.
Section 3.3: If a Respondent files a response to a Complaint, the Executive Director shall deliver copies of the response to the Complainant.
Section 3.4: After receipt of the response to a notice, or after noresponse is received within the time period prescribed, the Chairman shall submit the facts concerning the
Action, including any response or additional instruments and information, to the Committee for review.
Section 3.5: The Committee shall consider in its evaluation: (a) the relevancy of the charges as they apply to the objectives of the Association (Article II of the Articles of
Incorporation); (b) the severity of the charges; (c) any evidence of rehabilitation; and (d) any other evidence or factors the Committee, in its discretion, deems relevant.
Section 3.6:In the case of an Action concerning an Application Review, within 60 days of receipt of the Applicant’s response, or upon the end of the 30-day period set forth in Section 3.1 above if the Committee does not grant an extension, the Committee shall, by a majority vote, decide to either accept or deny the application for new membership or renewal of membership or refer it for a Hearing. In the case of an Action concerning a Complaint against a Member, within 60 days of receiving the Respondent’s response, or upon the end of the 30-day period set forth in Section 3.1 above, if the Committee does not grant an extension, the Committee shall, by majority vote, decide whether to dismiss the Complaint, take additional evidence, refer it for a Hearing, present the Respondent with a written proposal of findings in lieu of a Hearing, censure the Respondent or recommend Disciplinary Action.
Section 3.7: Grounds for Revocation. The following shall serve as grounds for revocation of AAEP membership:
a) Any applicant or member may be subject to denial of membership, cancellation of membership or disciplinary action upon a two-thirds majority vote of the board of directors, excluding the officers, pursuant to a recommendation to take such action from the Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee. However, no applicant or member shall be deprived of membership without first being granted the opportunity to appeal the decision of the board of directors to the officers. Failure to appear before the officers at the time and place appointed by the officers will cause forfeiture of the right to appeal. Any decision taken by the officers shall be the final action that the association will take on this matter.
b) Examples of circumstances, which may constitute grounds for denial, cancellation of membership or disciplinary action include, but are not limited to: i) Failure to report action taken against the applicant’s/member’s veterinary or race track license by a regulatory agency or racing association on the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s membership application/renewal form; ii) Action against an applicant’s/member’s veterinary or race track license by a regulatory agency or racing association in the form of fines, probation, suspension or revocation; iii) Failure to report action taken against the applicant/member by organizations governing horse shows, sales, equine events and breed registries in relation to the practice of veterinary medicine on the American Association of Equine Practitioners membership application/renewal form; iv) Action taken by organizations governing horse shows, sales, equine events and breed registries in relation to the practice of veterinary medicine; v) Acts of fraud, misrepresentation, deceit or animal cruelty; vi) Violations of the Ethical and Professional Guidelines of the association as recommended by the Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee based on an application review or a complaint submitted by either another member in good standing or by the Executive Director; vii) Any other reason that the Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee believes, in its discretion, warrants denial or cancellation of membership or other disciplinary action.
HEARINGS, REVOCATIONS, AND SUSPENSIONS
Section 4.1: Any Applicant or Respondent, as the case may be, which the Committee has referred for a Hearing, shall receive a written notice of the Hearing.
Section 4.2: Notice of any Hearing shall designate the date, time and place of the Hearing. No Hearing shall be set for a date and time, which does not permit at least 60 days notice, unless agreed to by all Parties.
Section 4.3: Any notice of a Hearing shall provide that the Applicant, Complainant and/or Respondent, as the case may be, shall have the rights set forth in Section 4.8(a) through 4.8(d).
Section 4.4: Notice of any Hearing shall include the names of the members of the Committee and the Board of Directors of the Association and a prohibition against communication regarding the matter with members of the Committee or members of the Board of Directors with the exception of the Executive Director and the Committee Chair as provided for in Article 7, Section 7.3 below.
Section 4.5: The Applicant or Parties, as the case may be, shall notify the Executive Director within 30 days from the date the notice of Hearing was sent (a) whether they will attend the Hearing; (b) which of the rights set forth in Section 4.8(a) to 4.8(d) they intend to exercise during the Hearing, and (c) whether a transcript of the Hearing will be requested, pursuant to Article 7 Section 7.1.
Section 4.6: An appearance at a Hearing without objection by a Party shall constitute a waiver of any defect in the notice of that Hearing.
Section 4.7: The Applicant or Respondent, as the case may be, may seek a continuance of a scheduled Hearing by submitting a written request to the Committee. The Committee, in its discretion, may grant requests for continuances. In the event the Applicant, Parties or witnesses fail to appear at a duly designated Hearing without obtaining a continuance, the Committee may proceed with the Hearing and reach its decision based on the evidence made available at the Hearing, on any written materials and other evidence previously submitted to the Committee.
Section 4.8: At any Hearing before the Committee, the Applicant or Parties, as the case may be, have the right to the following:
(a) to have legal counsel present;
(b) to present any witnesses;
(c) to submit any evidence pertinent to the case; and
(d) to cross-examine witnesses of others.
The Committee may also have legal counsel present to advise it.
Section 4.9: Upon written request of a party or of the Committee, there shall be furnished before a Hearing a summary of any evidence anticipated to be introduced at a Hearing, the names of any persons giving testimony and a summary of their expected testimony.
Section 4.10: The Chairman or his designee shall swear in, at the Committee’s discretion, any person giving oral testimony.
Section 4.11: Before permitting testimony relating to the character or general reputation of anyone, the Committee shall satisfy itself that the testimony has a direct bearing on the case at issue.
Section 4.12: Hearings by the Committee need not be conducted pursuant to the rules of evidence employed in formal court proceedings. The Committee may accept any evidence it deems appropriate.
Section 4.13: In respect of any Hearing, any Applicant or Party, as the case may be, may file with the Chairman a written request to prevent a member of the Committee from participating in the Hearing. Such request must be filed at least 14 days before the Hearing is to be held and must state the grounds cited for disqualification. Disqualification will prohibit the Committee member from participating in any discussions, voting or being present during any Hearing on the Action, unless presenting testimony as a witness. If the Committee determines that, in its judgment, the member of the Committee should be disqualified, it is empowered to do so. In addition, the Committee may disqualify any member of the Committee from participating in a Hearing who it determines might not render an impartial decision. The Committee shall have the sole discretion to determine whether any member should be disqualified.
Section 4.14: If the disqualification of a member of the Committee prevents the Committee from having sufficient numbers to conduct a Hearing under Section 4.7 above, the Chairman shall appoint a member of the Association to serve as a temporary member of the Committee for the purpose of conducting the Hearing.
Section 4.15: When the AAEP is made aware of an action meriting grounds for revocation of an individual’s AAEP membership, pursuant to Section 3.7, a letter from the executive director shall be sent to the AAEP member, giving that member 30 days to respond, in case there has been a factual error. The committee shall review the response, may conduct a hearing or may recommend immediate suspension or revocation of membership, at their discretion, to the Board of Directors.
Section 4.16: When the Ethics Committee becomes aware of a substantiated suspension, published notice, or notice by a breed association, racing commission, or competition organization based on information available in the public domain that has resulted in a suspension, but does not rise to the level of a felony or revocation of a veterinary license, and after all remedies for appeal have been exhausted, a letter from the executive director shall be issued, giving the member 30 days to respond to the inquiry. The Committee shall review the response and determine whether or not a hearing is necessary in order for the committee to gather more information. If the member does not respond or does not respond within the specified time frame, the committee may make a recommendation to the Board for disciplinary action based on the information they have at hand. If an infraction for which a veterinarian is sanctioned is a monetary fine of $2,500 or greater, or they are given any suspension time, a letter of inquiry will be sent by the executive director requesting a response to the infraction. If a fine is less than $2,500, no action by the AAEP or Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee is required.
Section 4.17: Most hearings occur at the Annual Convention; however, it is the wish of the Committee to address these issues with as much expediency as possible; therefore, the Committee may conduct a mid-year hearing (May 1-Sept 1), if needed, and upon approval by the Board of Directors. It is always preferrable that hearings be attended in person; however, if there are mitigating circumstances, hearings may be conducted by conference call or webcam at the discretion of the Committee and the Board of Directors. Hearings require a quorum of the Committee to be present, defined by a minimum of five members of the Committee and approved by a majority of the full Committee. Ideally, Committee members will participate in mid-year hearings on a rotating basis, with no member required to serve more than one mid-year hearing during their term on the Committee.
DECISION OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT AND ETHICS COMMITTEE
Section 5.1: After all investigations, fact-finding procedures and/or Hearings deemed necessary by the Committee are concluded, no less than a quorum of members of the Committee shall participate in the review of the Action and shall recommend action.
Section 5.2: The Committee shall vote only to recommend acceptance or denial of membership concerning an Application Review.
Section 5.3: Concerning a Respondent in a Complaint, the Committee shall make one of the following recommendations:
(a) to dismiss the Complaint,
(b) revoke or suspend the Respondent’s membership, or
(c) to take any other Disciplinary Action deemed appropriate by the Committee. In determining its recommendation, the Committee may take into account previous offenses, which may have affected the Respondent in the past. Any decisions by the Committee must be reached by a majority vote.
Section 5.4: The decision of the Committee shall be in writing and set forth the findings of fact and a statement of the action recommended. The decision of the Committee shall be filed with the Chairman, who shall submit the Committee’s recommendation to the Board for action as prescribed in the Bylaws Article IV Section 3(a).
Section 5.5: The Board shall vote on the Committee’s recommendation within 90 days. The decision of the Board to deny, revoke, or suspend membership shall require a two-thirds majority.
Section 5.6: Upon action by the Board, the Executive Director shall transmit the results to the Applicant or Parties within 30 days.
Section 5.7: The Committee has the authority to accept an application or dismiss a complaint without a board vote.
REHEARINGS OR APPEALS
Section 6.1: Any Applicant or Respondent which was previously granted a hearing pursuant to Section 4 may, within 30 days of the date of notification of the Board’s decision, petition the Committee for a rehearing solely on the grounds of newly discovered evidence in which the Applicant or Respondent seeking the rehearing, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have discovered and produced at the original Hearing. The petition must be filed in writing with the Executive Director and the Executive Director shall deliver copies of the petition to each Party with notice that a written response may be filed with the Executive Director within 30 days of the notice. No more than one petition for rehearing may be filed by an Applicant or Respondent in a case.
Section 6.2: A petition for rehearing shall be considered by the Committee at its next meeting. A decision to grant a petition for rehearing requires a majority vote of the Committee. The Executive Director shall immediately inform the Applicant or Parties, as the case may be, upon receipt of the Committee’s decision. In the event a rehearing is granted, the Petitioner will be given the opportunity for a new Hearing to be conducted as set forth in Article 4 above.
Section 6.3: In matters not involving an initial hearing pursuant to Section 4, within 30 days of the date of notification of the Board’s decision, the Applicant or Respondent may submit to the Executive Director a written request for an appeal to the Officers, including reasons for appeal, pursuant to Section 6.6 below.
Section 6.4: Any appeals should be heard at the next scheduled meeting of the Officers unless such meeting is within 30 days of the Applicant or Respondent’s request for an appeal, in which case the appeal shall be heard at the next meeting of the Officers.
Section 6.5: Only those Officers who have not previously reviewed the application/Complaint as a member of the Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee may participate in the appeal. The President shall serve as Chair of the proceedings.
Section 6.6: Any Party to an appeal may file with the Chair a written request to prevent an Officer from participating in the appeal. Such request must be filed at least 14 days before the appeal is to be considered and must state the grounds cited for disqualification. Disqualification will prohibit the Officer from participating in any discussions, voting or being present during any consideration of the appeal, unless presenting testimony as a witness. If the Officers determine that, in their judgment, the Officer should be disqualified, it is empowered to do so. In addition, the Officers may disqualify any Officer from participating in a Hearing who they determine might not render an impartial decision. The Officers shall have the sole discretion to determine whether any member should be disqualified.
Section 6.7: The Officers may only review the record pertaining to the Board’s decision to consider whether that decision was inappropriate because of (1) material errors of fact or (2) failure to conform to published criteria, policies or procedures.
Section 6.8: The Officers shall, by a majority vote, decide either to accept or reject the decision of the Board.
Section 6.9: The Officers shall conduct and complete its review and render a final determination within 180 days after receipt of the request for an appeal. The Executive Director or his designee shall mail the Officers’ determination to the Applicant or Respondent.
Section 6.10: Any decision of the Officers is final. In the event the decision of the Officers is challenged in a court of law, the Officers’ decision is to be given great deference and shall not be reversed absent a finding that such decision was arbitrary and capricious.
Section 6.11: As it relates to an appeals process, the record of any Hearing conducted pursuant to Article 4 is defined as the transcript and/or any evidence introduced during that Hearing.
Section 6.12: Reinstatement of a suspended or revoked AAEP membership requires a petition for reinstatement, and, at the discretion of the Committee, may require a hearing before the Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee. Reinstatement of AAEP membership is not allowed until the individual has satisfied the terms of the action which prompted the AAEP suspension/revocation.
Section 6.13: AAEP membership shall be automatically reinstated if any conviction, judgment or revocation is set aside upon final appeal in any court of competent jurisdiction.
Section 7.1: In any proceeding, a transcript may be made of the proceeding at the request of the Committee or any party to the proceeding. Costs associated with producing the transcript shall be borne by the party or parties making the request.
Section 7.2: Any notice required to be given or paper required to be filed may be given or filed in any manner, whether by personal service, via facsimile or by registered mail addressed to recipient’s last known mailing address; if mailed, notice shall be deemed given on the date the correspondence was mailed.
Section 7.3: All communications regarding an Action and any Hearing held thereon shall be directed to the Executive Director or the Executive Director’s designee. The Chairman or designee shall preside over any Hearing before the Committee and shall render any assistance to the parties that the Committee deems appropriate, which may include furnishing required forms and papers, receiving and filing all documents or other papers and receiving all fees and disbursing all money that may be payable to the Association.
Section 7.4: All facts and materials associated with a given Action will be treated by the Committee as confidential to the greatest extent practicable. The Committee reserves the right to use the general premise of the case as an educational tool for the membership in, but not limited to, the Association’s publications so long as the parties are not specifically named and the particulars of the case are presented in a general fashion. Following the review of an Action by the Committee and, as appropriate, the review of an appeal by the Officers, each member of the Committee and Officers, as the case may be, will return to the Executive Director all materials in his or her possession pertaining to the Action.
Section 7.5: All applications, Complaints, responses, records or evidence may be maintained by the Association and may be utilized by the Executive Director in all proceedings pertaining to any subsequent applications or Complaints.
Section 7.6: All interpretations of these rules shall be made in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Section 7.7: Any dispute regarding these rules, or any action take hereunder by the Committee, the Executive Director, the Officers, or any other person, party or entity shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Fayette County, Kentucky.
Revised by AAEP board of directors in 2020.