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Expelling a member without formal disciplinary action


Guest Gretchen
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Can we place in our national bylaws something to the effect that “the assembly has the exclusive right to suspend/expel a member of the organization with a majority vote at any regular or special meeting.  The assembly wants to have the authority to remove a member from the organization without going through disciplinary action.

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Just now, Guest Gretchen said:

Can we place in our national bylaws something to the effect that “the assembly has the exclusive right to suspend/expel a member of the organization with a majority vote at any regular or special meeting. “ 

Yes, an organization is free to place a rule of this nature in its bylaws.

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  • 2 weeks later...

RONR has quite a bit to say on discipline up to and including expulsion from membership. It's entirely contained in Chapter 20 of the 11th edition, and includes rather detailed procedures that are meant to protect the rights of both the individual and the organization. The 'short' answer to your specific question of "What if this is not in the bylaws?" is that RONR would absolutely prohibit such action by itself without the extensive preliminary procedures defined in Chapter 20.

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If we have adopted RONR and do not have an Article on discipline of members in the bylaws, we should follow the five steps in RONR page 656, ll. 27-32. But if an Article on discipline of members (similar in spirit to the above statement) were adopted in our bylaws, we could skip the five steps mentioned in RONR. Am I correct or did I miss something? Would not the accused still have to be notified and given an opportunity to appear before the assembly to tell his side of the story before we vote on his/her dismissal     

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1 hour ago, Guest Gretchen said:

If we have adopted RONR and do not have an Article on discipline of members in the bylaws, we should follow the five steps in RONR page 656, ll. 27-32. But if an Article on discipline of members (similar in spirit to the above statement) were adopted in our bylaws, we could skip the five steps mentioned in RONR. Am I correct or did I miss something?

You are correct. Your bylaws govern when they conflict with RONR.

 

1 hour ago, Guest Gretchen said:

Would not the accused still have to be notified and given an opportunity to appear before the assembly to tell his side of the story before we vote on his/her dismissal     

That would depend on what exactly you put into your bylaws (and anything else that might apply, such as an applicable procedural law if a public body or otherwise regulated, etc.). You could write a bylaw provision allowing for dismissal without notice or an opportunity to offer a defense. The wisdom of doing so is another story.

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16 hours ago, Guest Gretchen said:

If we have adopted RONR and do not have an Article on discipline of members in the bylaws, we should follow the five steps in RONR page 656, ll. 27-32. But if an Article on discipline of members (similar in spirit to the above statement) were adopted in our bylaws, we could skip the five steps mentioned in RONR. Am I correct or did I miss something? Would not the accused still have to be notified and given an opportunity to appear before the assembly to tell his side of the story before we vote on his/her dismissal     

You could adopt a special rule of order that would create its own disciplinary procedure, which would not need to include those steps and could permit expulsion by a majority vote, without notice.  I do agree with Mr. Katz's implication that such a rule may be unwise. 

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16 hours ago, Guest Gretchen said:

Would not the accused still have to be notified and given an opportunity to appear before the assembly to tell his side of the story before we vote on his/her dismissal     

If all that is said on this subject is “the assembly has the exclusive right to suspend/expel a member of the organization with a majority vote at any regular or special meeting,” that would not appear to include a specific right for the accused to be notified of such action or to speak in his defense.

Generally speaking, regular meetings require notice if they are scheduled by resolution, but they do not require notice (unless the bylaws provide otherwise) if the date and time are established by rule. Special meetings always require notice, and such a notice must include the items of business to be considered. If the accused is present, he would have the same right to speak in debate on the motion to suspend or expel him as other members.

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1 hour ago, J. J. said:

You could adopt a special rule of order that would create its own disciplinary procedure, which would not need to include those steps and could permit expulsion by a majority vote, without notice.  I do agree with Mr. Katz's implication that such a rule may be unwise. 

I do not agree, and I'm a little puzzled because this seems obviously wrong, so I must be missing something. It seems to me that every time RONR discusses the rights of members, it says "unless the bylaws provide otherwise." Qualifications for membership must appear in the bylaws. Why would a special rule of order suffice here?

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1 hour ago, Joshua Katz said:

I do not agree, and I'm a little puzzled because this seems obviously wrong, so I must be missing something. It seems to me that every time RONR discusses the rights of members, it says "unless the bylaws provide otherwise." Qualifications for membership must appear in the bylaws. Why would a special rule of order suffice here?

Disciplinary action does meet the broad criteria of referring to the transaction of business within a meeting.   While RONR that the bylaws can include a section on discipline (p. 583), there is nothing that says that, in order to use a different process, there must be authorization in the bylaws. 

For example, RONR notes that, in order to impose a fine as a penalty, authority to levy a fine must be specified in the bylaws.  There is  no such language relating to the process, or two other penalties for that matter.

 

 

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