About the Grievance Process

The Register of Professional Archaeologists encourages the reporting of possible violations in order to provide a fair and balanced process for resolving disputes. Please do not hesitate to contact the Grievance Coordinator if you have questions about the grievance process or a possible violation!


1 (410) 246-2150

The grievance hotline connects you directly to the Grievance Coordinator, avoiding office staff and intermediaries, for confidential consultation and information. 

Below, we provide a succinct overview of the grievance processes of the Register, including how to file a grievance, the role of the grievance coordinator, and a brief overview of potential disciplinary action. For further details, please see the Disciplinary Procedures of the Register of Professional Archaeologists.

Filing a Grievance

One of the major goals of the Register of Professional Archaeologists (the Register) is to provide and enforce the organization’s Code of Conduct (Code) and the Standards of Research Performance (Standards). Any person, whether an RPA or not, can file a grievance. In order for the Register to review a grievance complaint, two criteria must be met:

  1. The person accused of the grievance was an RPA at the time the violation was committed.
  2. The person violated some part of the Code or Standards.

If the person was not an RPA or did not violate the RPA Code and/or Standards, then the Register cannot review or investigate the allegations. If both criteria are met, then the Grievance Coordinator, a two-year elected position held by an RPA, will move forward with an investigation. The Grievance Coordinator is available to help determine whether or not the accused person was an RPA at the time of the violation.

Please note that the Register receives many grievances about an RPA’s alleged misconduct that do not fall within the Code and/or Standards – when this is the case, the Grievance Coordinator cannot investigate the allegations.

Role of the Grievance Coordinator

When someone files a grievance complaint, the Grievance Coordinator is the person responsible for investigating the allegations and determining next steps. In doing this, the Grievance Coordinator has two major responsibilities:

  1. Maintenance of the Code and Standards, and
  2. Protection of the rights of those Registered Professional Archaeologists (RPAs) accused of violating the Code or the Standards.

The Grievance Coordinator first examines the complaint following the Disciplinary Procedures of the Register of Professional Archaeologists. When the Coordinator has sufficient information that indicates an RPA has violated the Code and Standards, a Grievance Committee is appointed to formally investigate the violation.

Role of the Grievance Committee

The Grievance Committee consists of the Grievance Coordinator and two additional RPAs, who are appointed by the Coordinator based on necessary expertise to evaluate the allegation. The Committee is charged with formally investigating the violation. They will then file a report that recommends one of the following conclusions:

  1. no disciplinary action taken as the violation does not warrant it;
  2. the accused is given the right to accept admonishment or censure; or
  3. a formal complaint is prepared and filed with the Standards Board, made up of elected registrants of the RPA.

If the report concludes with either of the first two options, the Grievance Coordinator lets the accused know that: 1) no disciplinary action will be taken, or 2) that they have the option to accept or reject the admonishment or censure outlined in the report. If the Committee concludes with a formal complaint, the Standards Board hears the case and may suspend or terminate the accuser’s registration.

Any person, whether an RPA or not, can file a grievance. The person accused of a grievance must have been an RPA during the time they were accused.

How to File a Grievance

To file a grievance alleging that an RPA has violated the Code of Conduct and Standards of Research Performance:

  1. Complete the Grievance Initiation Form.
  2. Submit it via email or fax to the current grievance coordinator at grievance@rpanet.org.

Please note: If an RPA fails to pay their annual registration fee, then according to the organization’s by-laws, they have voluntarily terminated their registration.

Who Can File a Grievance

Anyone! It is the policy of the Register that anyone, either a registrant or non-registrant, may identify potential violations of the Register’s Code and Standards. In the event that there is a suspected violation of the Code or Standards, anyone may contact the Grievance Coordinator to initiate an investigation.

When Should I File a Grievance

We encourage people to file grievances when a suspected violation occurs–this is a key to professional accountability–Code of Conduct Section 2.1(g) requires that a Registered Professional Archaeologist shall report knowledge of code violations. So, observing and not reporting a violation is, in itself, a violation of the Code.

Additional Resources on the Grievance Process

Disciplinary Procedures of The Register of Professional Archaeologists

Manual for Grievance Coordinators

The Day-to-Day Duties of the Grievance Coordinator by R. Berle Clay

– Reprinted by permission from The SAA Archaeological Record, volume 6, number 2.