South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Private Organization Code of Ethics May Be Adopted by Regulatory Board
Description North Carolina appeals court held it was not an unconstitutional delegation for the North Carolina legislature to allow a state board to regulate the psychology profession and for the Board to adopt the ethical code of the American Psychology Association, a private organization.
Topic Administrative Law
Key Words Disciplinary Hearing; Private Code of Ethics
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Farber, a licensed psychologist in practice in North Carolina, had a complaint filed against him by a former patient who claimed that he had engaged in an improper relationship with her. The North Carolina Psychology Board investigated the complaint and found that there were grounds to believe that the ethical standards of the profession had been violated. The Board scheduled a hearing on the matter. Farber sued, contending that Board procedure is improper and that the Board improperly enforced a private code of ethics. The trial court held that the Board could not rule on the complaint against Farber. The Board appealed.
Decision

Reversed. The Board engaged in a proper investigation to determine if a hearing was justified in the matter. The Board may set the rules for the profession as well as engage in hearings about breaches of the rules, so long as proper procedure in the hearings is followed. The Board's adoption of the ethical rules of the American Psychological Association, a private organization, under the state's Psychology Practice Act is not an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority and does not violate due process rights. The state legislature has the authority to grant such authority to regulatory agencies.

Citation Farber v. North Carolina Psychology Board, 569 S.E.2d 287 (Ct. App., N.C., 2002)

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