By Nathalie F. P. Gilfoyle, General Counsel, American Psychological Association
It is amazing to think that 10 years ago it was rare to meet someone who participated in an electronic listserv. Today listservs are the means of choice for people across the country and around the world to discuss issues of common interest. This is particularly true in a professional association like APA where knowledge is highly valued and lively debate is welcome.
Division Lists have many positive attributes and can serve the interests of furthering Division purposes in myriad ways. But because this article is being written by APA legal counsel you probably know that it will highlight some of the pitfalls that can ensnare the unwary in list discussions. So here are a few of the top trouble areas and some guidance on how Division List Administrators and List members can avoid problems.
Copyright -- Not infrequently a list member wants to tell others about an article or news item related to the issues discussed on the List. It may surprise you to learn that sending the entire article to the list, without the permission of the author or publisher, makes you guilty of copyright violation. It's okay to provide a brief quote from the copyrighted material or to provide a link to the story if it is published electronically but refrain from posting the whole item to the List.
Defamation -- Sometimes a robust debate about ideas spills over into ad hominem attacks on the proponents or opponents of the ideas. List members need to be reminded that a false statement that harms someone's reputation can be an actionable libel. There is a substantial difference between disagreeing with how someone did their research or treated a patient and accusing the person of incompetence or fraud. Because negative statements that impugn someone's professional qualifications can cause substantial economic and emotional harm, this is an area of careful scrutiny. Keeping criticism on an objective basis that is factually verifiable and skipping personal commentary about character, competence or motive minimizes legal risk.
Antitrust concerns -- The antitrust laws are broad and complex but on a very basic level they operate to prohibit and even in some cases criminalize certain anticompetitive agreements between competitors. A professional association like APA is almost by definition a group of competitors that has come together to pursue common interests. Where those common interests involve agreements on such terms of competition as rates charged, salaries paid, standards applicable to members of the profession, and other issues of the marketplace, the antitrust laws apply. Listservs provide a written record of statements that can create an antitrust risk even when there is no anti-competitive intent. Thus for the protection of everyone discussions about rates charged in a given area, efforts to exert collective pressure on payors, terms of contracts with insurance companies, internship salaries, etc, all are prohibited.
Risks affecting tax exemption -- While using the list to endorse political candidates in a federal, state, or local election or for commercial purposes likely won't expose a member to personal legal risk, it can jeopardize APA's tax exempt status under section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code. To keep this advantageous tax status, APA cannot ever be involved in electioneering or endorse a candidate for federal, state, or local political office. APA must assure that its activities are focused on the scientific, educative, and charitable purposes for which it gained tax exempt status.
This list of legal risks is not exhaustive but Division List administrators who keep an eye on these areas should be in good shape. As always if you have doubt or questions contact Sarah Jordan in Division Services or any of us in the Office of General Counsel.
The APA Committee on Division/APA Relations (CODAPAR) has sent out invitations to division Presidents-elect for the 2004 Division Leadership Conference (DLC). The conference will be held at the Capital Hilton Hotel located at 16th and K Streets, NW, Washington, DC from January 30 to February 1. The conference is being scheduled at a new time in 2004. It was formerly held on Martin Luther King’s birthday weekend. It was moved due to concerns raised by APA staff that wished to participate in celebrations related to Dr. King’s life and accomplishments.
Some current division Presidents have expressed interest in attending the 2004 conference due to the cancellation of the 2003 DLC. In response to this request, CODAPAR has decided to extend an invitation to additional division representatives; however, the division must cover all expenses for the second representative. If neither the President nor President-elect is able to attend, CODAPAR would appreciate assistance in identifying another division representative to attend.
All participants are invited to a pre-conference dinner beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, January 30. The dinner is designed as a get-acquainted session, with conversation about strategies for a successful presidential year. The conference program begins at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, January 31, and concludes on Sunday, February 1, at noon. Although some time will be devoted to discussion of APA governance and an orientation to APA central office, most of the conference will be interactive sessions on substantive issues. Small breakout sessions will allow for intensive exploration of topics of interest and the development of interdivisional linkages to address areas of mutual concern. A primary goal of the conference is to encourage and provide support for collaboration among divisions.
Breakout sessions will include “Getting into the Monitor: Your Division’s Role in the Editorial Process”; “Student Affiliates and Early Career Professionals”; “Encouraging Diversity”; “Advancing Your Division’s Agenda”; “How to Prepare for a Media Interview”; Nuts & Bolts: Structural Issues in Division Management; as well as sessions on current issues and activities in the Education, Practice, Public Interest, and Science Directorates.
All divisions of the American Psychological Association are covered under the Association’s insurance policies. We’ve recently been advised by our insurance consultant to survey all divisions so that we can provide our insurance companies full and complete information on division operations as part of our annual insurance renewal process. All divisions have completed surveys at this time.
APA maintains the following types of insurance for the organization, including the divisions where applicable:
Property Insurance: Provides coverage for loss or damage to business personal property (contents) from fire and other causes.
General Liability Insurance: Provides protection for third party bodily injury and property damage claims.
Business Auto Insurance: Provides selected liability and physical damage coverage for company-owned vehicles as well as vehicles leased or rented by the company. Includes the exposure posed by autos owned by employees used on behalf of the company.
Fidelity Insurance: Reimburses employer for loss sustained by the employer by reason of any dishonest act of an employee or employees that are covered.
Workers Compensation Insurance: Insures against claims for work-related injuries or diseases suffered by employees that are compensable by statute and/or imposed by law as damages.
Travel Accident Insurance: Pays employees and volunteers for injury occurring during the course of travel authorized by the organization. Benefits include a principal sum for loss of life and specified payments for loss of limbs or eyesight.
Directors and Officers Liability Insurance: Insures directors and officers against claims alleging loss arising from mismanagement.
Umbrella Liability Insurance: Provides excess general liability limits and protects the insured from exclusions and gaps of primary liability insurance. An umbrella liability policy comes into play when primary insurance limits have been exhausted, or when a claim develops that is not covered by primary insurance.
Media Special Perils Insurance: A special form of insurance to protect APA from claims arising from our publications program.
Any situation that arises that may involve a claim should be reported immediately to
Director of Administrative Operations
American Psychological Association
750 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
New Principles encourage greater accountability for test users and developers
The latest revision of the Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures has been completed and approved by the Executive Committee of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives. The revision encourages greater accountability by test developers and administrators to provide strong evidence that supports the claims they make about a test.
Last updated in 1987, the Principles are SIOP’s official statement concerning procedures for conducting validation research in personnel selection. “The updated version,” says Dr. Richard Jeanneret, Chair of the Revision Committee, “reflects the latest information gained from research and practice and is consistent with APA Standards.”
The APA Standards are broader in concept than SIOP’s Principles. The Standards address the construction, validation and administration of a wide range of tests used in a variety of settings, whereas the Principles are concerned primarily with tests used in personnel selection. Both are designed to support credible test development and use and should improve the entire field of testing, says Jeanneret.
He added that the Fourth Edition is timely because the use of testing in work-related settings is growing considerably and is widely used by businesses and other organizations to influence personnel decisions. At the same time, where tests are primary factors in personnel matters, legal challenges have become more common and the responsibility to demonstrate the validity of a test is greater than ever.
“The Principles set expectations for developing and administering tests,” says Jeanneret, who has worked for the past three years with 11 other SIOP members and a 13-member advisory panel to update the Principles. “Validation is the evidence supporting inferences resulting from a test about an individual’s behavior, such as job performance, effectiveness in a team setting, absenteeism, etc.”
He emphasized that the Principles do not mandate specific approaches or actions regarding the validation and use of tests. Rather the Principles represent the consensus of professional knowledge and practice and can be used to guide and support the validation of tests and their use in the employment context.
“Based upon a set of test results, we are making judgments about people and their abilities and their suitability to perform specific jobs. These judgments have enormous impact upon people and their careers and we, as I-O psychologists, need to be very diligent in providing strong evidence supporting outcomes derived from test scores,” says Jeanneret. “Test developers and administrators should be able to back up their assertions with scientific data.”
An important resource for test developers, attorneys, human resource professionals, policymakers, psychologists and other professionals, the Principles can be ordered through the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Copies, at $10 each, can be ordered online by going to the SIOP website at www.siop.org and clicking on Publications or by calling 419-353-0032 to purchase with a credit card.
Division Presidents should watch for the request for annual reports in their mail in early November. The request will go out about November 1, and the reports will be due back February 2, 2004. The mailing will include instructions and guidelines for completing the report and a cover sheet with a series of questions to be answered. These reports will be used for the Board of Directors annual review and 5-year review of divisions. Divisions to be reviewed in 2004 are 3, 9, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 53.
Please join us in welcome Troy Booker to the position of Division Services Officer. Troy will begin work in the Division Services Office on November 17. His duties will include working as staff liaison to the Committee on Division/APA Relations. You can reach him at Troy Booker or 202-336-6121.
Keith O. Yeates, PhD, Chair (term expires December 31, 2003)
Divisions: 8, 23, 26, 27, 37, 40, 43, 53, 54
Martha E. Banks, PhD
Divisions: 12, 22, 29, 35, 42, 46, 49, 52, 55
Gary R. Brooks, PhD
Divisions:18, 20, 31, 33, 41, 44, 50, 51
Angelo S. DeNisi, PhD (term expires December 31, 2003)
Divisions: 1, 13, 14, 15, 19, 21, 24, 25, 34
Lisa L. Harlow, PhD
Divisions: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 28, 38, 47, 48
Ilene Serlin, PhD
Divisions: 9, 16, 17, 30, 32, 36, 39, 45
Frank C. Worrell, PhD (term begins January 1, 2004)
Thomas R. Zentall, PhD (term begins January 1, 2004)
Paul L. Craig, PhD, Board of Directors Liaison
Subscribe to the listserv for division leaders. It's easy to join. Just send a message to Listserv Subscription Request. In the body of the message put “subscribe divofficers yourfirstname yourlastname” and send your message. You will receive a response that welcomes you to the listserv and provides instructions on how to use it most effectively.
Troy Booker, Division Services Officer
Laura Anibal Braceland, Division Services Coordinator
Keith Cooke, Division Services Manager
Penny Harrison, Division Services Assistant
Sarah Jordan, Director, Divisions Services
Please submit copy on diskette or via email to Troy Booker.
January/February 2004: December 15, 2003
March/April 2004: February 23, 2004
May/June 2004: April 26, 2004
July/August 2004: June 28, 2004
September/October 2004: August 23, 2004
November/December 2004: October 25, 2004