Since 1951 the National Academy of Arbitrators (NAA) has maintained a code of professional responsibility. That code is now entitled “Code of Professional Responsibility for Arbitrators of Labor-Management Disputes.” The Code applies, as well, to arbitrators in non-union employer-employee disputes. The American Arbitration Association and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service also apply the Code to the arbitrators on their rosters. In addition, many arbitrators who are not NAA members have adopted the Code as their professional standard of ethics.
Under the Code it is an arbitrator’s duty to make determinations of fact and render decisions free of bias toward one party or the other. To that end, it is an arbitrator’s responsibility to disclose to both parties any association or activity that might be viewed as a conflict of interest prejudicing his or her conduct of the hearing and rendering of an impartial decision. Failure to do so may constitute grounds for a court to vacate (render invalid) an arbitration award, and at the very east will likely imperil the arbitrator’s future career.