Code-of-Conduct-graphic

ACTEC is Committed to Providing a Welcoming and Inclusive Environment

The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (“ACTEC” or “the College”) is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all persons as provided in the ACTEC Bylaws.  In furtherance of that commitment, the College expects all Fellows, guests, sponsors, ACTEC employees, and other participants in ACTEC activities to act with respect and civility towards all.  This Code of Conduct offers guidance for conduct at all ACTEC activities, whether at ACTEC meetings, at other ACTEC events or during participation in telephone calls, online or via social media in connection with an ACTEC event, activity or project. 

Violations of this Code of Conduct exclusively between or among ACTEC employees are governed by the procedures, sanctions and other related provisions set forth in the ACTEC Employee Handbook.  Violations involving either one or more ACTEC employees and one or more non-employees of ACTEC, or two or more non-employees of ACTEC, are subject to this Code of Conduct.

Actions that Further a Welcoming and Inclusive Environment

Examples of individual actions that further a welcoming and inclusive environment are:

  • Addressing an individual in a respectful manner
  • Listening more than speaking
  • Remembering that others may have expertise of which you are unaware
  • Encouraging and yielding the floor to those whose views have not yet been presented and those whose viewpoints may be under-represented within a group
  • Using welcoming language
  • Accepting criticism graciously and offering it constructively
  • Giving credit wherever it is due
  • Offering assistance to others where appropriate to facilitate a fully accessible meeting environment
  • Staying alert, as active participants, to the welfare and feelings of all those around us

Actions that are Contrary to a Welcoming and Inclusive Environment

Examples of individual actions that are contrary to a welcoming and inclusive environment are:

  • Any form of discrimination
  • Any form of harassment
  • Use of sexual language or imagery
  • Jokes or slurs relating to the religion, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation of a person
  • Offensive or demeaning comments
  • Threats or demands
  • Intimidating language or conduct
  • Stalking and other forms of unwelcome attention
  • Photographing or recording without permission when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy
  • Sustained interruptions of educational programs or social events
  • Any unwelcome physical contact or sexual attention, whether in person, in written or visual form, or online

The actions listed above are to be considered in the context in which they arise.

Not all unwelcome, offensive or objectionable conduct necessarily rises to the level of a violation of this Code of Conduct.  

Anyone who experiences or observes inappropriate comments or actions may wish to intervene personally if it is appropriate and safe to do so.  Such intervention, even if there is immediate compliance with the request, does not preclude a subsequent complaint regarding the perceived violation.

Retaliation in connection with a complaint regarding a perceived violation of this Code of Conduct is itself a violation of this Code of Conduct.

Reporting and Investigating Violations of this Code of Conduct

Perceived violations of this Code of Conduct should be communicated to one of the College Ombudspersons Margaret G. Lodise, Mary F. Radford, and Bruce Stone or to ACTEC’s Executive Director, who shall immediately forward the complaint to one of the College Ombudspersons.

After receiving a complaint, the Ombudsperson will promptly notify the President or other Officer of the College, who will, in turn, promptly notify the Executive Committee, with recusals as necessary and appropriate.  The Ombudsperson will then promptly and appropriately investigate the allegations.  If the person who is the subject of the complaint is an ACTEC employee (other than the Executive Director), the Ombudsperson shall consult with the College’s Executive Director.  Where appropriate, the investigation shall include, but not be limited to, interviews with the person who submitted the complaint and the individual who is the subject of the complaint.  The Ombudsperson shall submit her or his report to the ACTEC Executive Committee when the investigation is complete.

After receipt of an Ombudsperson’s report, the Executive Committee, with recusals as necessary and appropriate, may make such further inquiries as it deems reasonable in determining whether a violation has occurred and, if so, what, if any, sanctions are warranted.  Anyone accused of violating this Code of Conduct shall be provided with the opportunity to respond to the allegations of misconduct during the investigation by the ACTEC Executive Committee.  Both the person who submitted the complaint and the person who is the subject of the complaint shall be given the opportunity to appear before the Executive Committee to present her or his position.  The Executive Committee shall then take such action as it deems appropriate in the circumstances.

Sanctions for Violations of this Code of Conduct

Anyone found to have violated this Code of Conduct is subject to sanctions as determined by the Executive Committee in its sole and absolute discretion. 

The College’s response to violations of this Code of Conduct will depend upon the ACTEC Executive Committee’s evaluation of all the relevant circumstances, including, but not limited to, prior behavior by the person found to have engaged in the prohibited conduct.  Sanctions shall be imposed based on credible evidence as determined by the ACTEC Executive Committee.

In the event an individual is found to have violated this Code of Conduct, the College reserves the right, by way of example and without limitation, (1) to give a confidential verbal warning and admonition to such person; (2) to direct such person to leave a meeting or event or to cease engaging in ACTEC-related online activities; (3) to prohibit such person from attendance at one or more future meetings or participation in other certain programs or activities of the College; (4) to expel such person from the College; and (5) to make such submissions to law enforcement authorities as may be appropriate and/or required in the circumstances.

The decision of the ACTEC Executive Committee as to whether an individual has violated this Code of Conduct, and what, if any, sanctions to impose as a result, shall be final, and no party shall be entitled to any appeal.