Silvertomster

How to challenge an illegal membership expulsion?

9 posts in this topic

A dues-current member received a letter, signed by the President of a membership organization, stating, "in accordance with the ....bylaws, your membership is terminated immediately....The decision of the Board of Trustees is final."

The bylaws do not provide for termination of membership.except for nonpayment of dues. A board member who was asked about it replied,  "Since the decision was made in executive session, there is no more I can say about it to you or to anyone else." It is suspected that the member was expelled because she was raising too many concerns about the direction of the organization.

What is the proper way to challenge or appeal this expulsion?

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I have trouble believing that the only way a person can be expelled is for nonpayment of dues.  Do the bylaws expressly say that, or simply fail to provide for other expulsions?  If the latter, the question is governed by RONR (if that is your parliamentary authority).  Under RONR, that decision would indeed be made in executive session...with notice and the ability to defend, and certainly the accused is not barred from attending and/or learning what happened.  Also, it is not a board decision under RONR.

That said, a point of order should be raised, and an appeal made.  That was in passive voice to call attention to the next question - by whom?  If the member really wants to illustrate their position, they should raise it themselves, I guess, but it might be more effective to line up someone else to raise it (since they'll need to gather support to make the appeal go through anyway).  If a friendly board member can be found, it can be raised at a board meeting that the board took actions beyond its bylaw competence.  Otherwise, it can be raised at a membership meeting.

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If it is a continuing breach, any member can raise a Point of Order.  Looking at p 241 I would say it is as a main motion in conflict with the bylaws.  Since it will probably be ruled not well-taken be ready to Appeal.  If your Point is ignored, raise it to the Assembly.  If the will of the assembly is to take the Point well-taken and the board refuses to follow through start discussing discipline (Chapter XX).

 

ETA:  I started typing before Joshua's reply came up.

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3 hours ago, Silvertomster said:

A dues-current member received a letter, signed by the President of a membership organization, stating, "in accordance with the ....bylaws, your membership is terminated immediately....The decision of the Board of Trustees is final."

The bylaws do not provide for termination of membership.except for nonpayment of dues. A board member who was asked about it replied,  "Since the decision was made in executive session, there is no more I can say about it to you or to anyone else." It is suspected that the member was expelled because she was raising too many concerns about the direction of the organization.

What is the proper way to challenge or appeal this expulsion?

There can be other grounds for expelling  a member than those expressed in the bylaws.  For example, it may expel a member for “conduct tending to injure the good name of the organization,” or to impede the organization's work  (p. 662, 11. 13-4).

I would question, however, if the board had the ability to discipline a member.  That authority would nave to have granted in a rule or bylaw.

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These answers are all helpful, thanks. To answer Josh, the bylaws are poorly written and indeed do not provide for termination of membership other than (implicitly) because of failure of a member to make a specified annual financial contribution.. They DO give the board authority to terminate one particular privilege of membership in certain circumstances. But that is not at issue in this case.The issue is whether the board can terminate ALL membership privileges of a person without due process. Since RONR is the parliamentary authority specified in the bylaws, I believe the answer is no.

If the board will not reconsider, it appears in order to call for a special meeting for the members to nullify the board's decision to expel the member. The bylaws provide for special meetings upon the petition of ten members, which will not be difficult to round up. Thanks again for these and any further comments.        

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3 hours ago, Silvertomster said:

To answer Josh, the bylaws are poorly written and indeed do not provide for termination of membership other than (implicitly) because of failure of a member to make a specified annual financial contribution.. They DO give the board authority to terminate one particular privilege of membership in certain circumstances.

Again, I think this language is unclear.  Do they simple "not provide for" or do they actually supersede the provisions in RONR by saying that membership cannot be terminated other than non-payment?

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Bylaws cannot "implicitly" provide for expulsion for non-payment of dues.  They would have to explicitly provide that, since RONR says explicitly that a member's rights cannot be abridged solely on the basis of a failure to pay dues, unless the bylaws say so

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9 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

Again, I think this language is unclear.  Do they simple "not provide for" or do they actually supersede the provisions in RONR by saying that membership cannot be terminated other than non-payment?

I think that is immaterial.  If the bylaws only provide for termination of membership for non-payment and then we go to RONR, I believe the case as stated by the OP did not follow Chapter XX.

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3 hours ago, SaintCad said:

I think that is immaterial.  If the bylaws only provide for termination of membership for non-payment and then we go to RONR, I believe the case as stated by the OP did not follow Chapter XX.

Agreed, but the point of order and appeal might be more popular if OP is clear on what the objection is.

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