NYS Funeral Directors Association approves enforceable Code of Ethics
June 10, 2009
ALBANY — The New York State Funeral Directors Association (NYSFDA) has adopted an enforceable Code of Ethics which will apply to all members of the statewide trade association. Individuals will be required to sign a pledge to adhere to the Code when they apply for NYSFDA membership. According to NYSFDA’s Executive Director Bonnie McCullough, the Code was passed overwhelmingly by the Board of Directors after extensive research into the nature and structure of existing codes in a variety of sectors as well as that in use by the National Funeral Directors Association. McCullough said, “Although we are well aware that NYSFDA members already observe the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct, we believe that the adoption of a Code of Ethics will both set NYSFDA members apart and send a strong message to consumers that NYSFDA members take their responsibility to serve the public as funeral directors very seriously.” Included in the Code is a list of preferred behaviors in five categories: Service to Families, Care of the Decedent, Obligations to the Public, Obligations to the Government and Obligations to NYSFDA. Specific guidelines in the Code are already being followed by NYSFDA members throughout their careers and include such things as not engaging in “any unprofessional conduct which is likely to defraud or deceive the public,” or to not “knowingly make or file false records or reports in the practice of funeral directing.” Enforcement procedures spell out in detail all the steps the Ethics Committee will take if a complaint is properly filed. If it is determined that further investigation is warranted, one of five actions, or a combination, could result: dismissing the case, reprimand, probation, suspension or termination of NYSFDA membership. There is also an appeals process in place. Reinforcing the focus on the consumer is a stipulation that the person filing the complaint “cannot be a member of NYSFDA, an employee of an NYSFDA member, or any other licensed or registered funeral director in the State of New York, a member of their immediate family, or an agent acting on their behalf.” The second stipulation addresses instances where the complaint that is filed with the Ethics Committee is a clear allegation of a violation of New York State law or regulations, or is the subject of a current case within the courts. In these cases, the Ethics Committee would dismiss the complaint until a decision in the case has been reached by the NYS Bureau of Funeral Directing or the judiciary. After a decision has been issued, the Ethics Committee could still choose to conduct its own investigation and decide on an appropriate penalty. The Code of Ethics and Enforcement Procedures went into effect on Jan. 1 in conjunction with membership applications for the current year. The full text of the Code of Ethics, as well as the procedures for filing a complaint, can be found on NYSFDA’s Web site (www.nysfda.org). Founded in 1889, NYSFDA’s mission is to promote the highest standards of funeral service to the public and to enhance the environment in which its members operate. More than 900 member firms and their 3,000 licensed funeral directors who practice across the state belong to the New York State Funeral Directors Association. In addition to maintaining a Web site at www.nysfda.org, NYSFDA also publishes a quarterly newspaper column “Transitions” and brochures which educate and inform consumers about end-of-life issues.
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