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When Disciplinary Action is Required: An Outline of Procedure - FGS Wiki

When Disciplinary Action is Required: An Outline of Procedure


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[NOTE: this page has not yet been formatted.  If you are interested in assisting in the care and maintenance of the FGS Wiki Content, please contact Thomas MacEntee at publicity@fgs.org.]
 
  
[[Category:Strategies for Societies]][[Category:King, Roberta "Bobbi"]][[Category:Board Members]][[Category:Officers]]
+
== INTRODUCTION ==
 +
 
 +
If it has been determined, usually by more than
 +
one person on a society’s board of directors,
 +
that a society or board member has offended the
 +
tenets of a society and that disciplinary actions
 +
are warranted, there is an outline of procedures
 +
which you may pursue, and feel assured that
 +
you are proceeding in the proper manner.
 +
 
 +
Many societies have in their bylaws their
 +
parliamentary authority as the current edition
 +
of ''Robert’s Rules of Order''.
 +
Disciplinary procedures are well described in
 +
this reference. Some societies have disciplinary
 +
procedures outlined within their bylaws....
 +
an excellent idea! Most bylaws, however,
 +
are rudimentary or completely lacking the
 +
framework for disciplinary action of society
 +
members, directors, or officers.
 +
 
 +
A society and its board have the right to make
 +
and enforce their own rules, and to require that
 +
board members refrain from conduct injurious
 +
to the society or individual members. No one should be allowed
 +
to remain a board member of a society who
 +
violates the rules of good conduct and could
 +
possibly bring injury or harm to the good name
 +
of the society.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== OFFENSES ==
 +
 
 +
What are examples of such bad conduct? Some
 +
would include:
 +
<ul>
 +
<li>an officer or board member who demeans,
 +
speaks derogatorily, or publicly criticizes
 +
the organization;
 +
<li>a board member who discredits fellow
 +
board members;
 +
<li>an officer who undermines board decisions
 +
and work;
 +
<li>a board member who sullies the society’s
 +
name and reputation.
 +
<li>an individual misrepresenting himself/herself as an authorized member of the society's board and/or acting on behalf of the society without official sanction
 +
<li>disruption of a regular meeting with inappropriate behavior
 +
<li>physical or verbal abuse of another society member
 +
</ul>
 +
 
 +
Offenses can generally be separated into two
 +
categories: offenses occurring during meetings,
 +
and offenses occurring outside the meetings.
 +
 
 +
Arguments and disagreements within the board
 +
must remain within the confines of the board
 +
room. Indeed, a good board should actively
 +
discuss the pros and cons of prospective board
 +
action and the merits of activities which affect
 +
the society. But the public face of the ruling members of
 +
the society must be one of solid support for the
 +
society.
 +
 
 +
When it appears that disciplinary measures
 +
need to be taken, tactful handling of the case
 +
is important, no matter how tempted you
 +
may be to discuss among your close friends
 +
the offensive person and the acts of alleged
 +
misconduct.
 +
 
 +
Punishments that a society may impose include:  
 +
suspension from the rights of membership
 +
(such as holding office), or expulsion from the
 +
organization.
 +
 
 +
Occasionally there are offenses that occur during a meetIng. A board has the right to determine who may
 +
attend its meetings, and has control of its
 +
meeting. A board member has the right, indeed
 +
the obligation, to attend meetings and participate
 +
in board discussions. A member, however,
 +
who has specifically been barred and forbidden
 +
to attend cannot enter a board meeting. All
 +
members in a board meeting have the obligation
 +
to obey the orders of the presiding officer.
 +
In a board meeting, a member who continues
 +
to speak when told to keep quiet, and who
 +
continues to disrupt the meeting, should
 +
be removed. A board member who speaks
 +
personally against other members of the society,
 +
by name and with clear disparagement, needs
 +
to be disciplined. A member who persists on
 +
speaking about irrelevant matters should be
 +
called to order and instructed to refrain from
 +
such statements. These troublesome members
 +
disturb the orderly conduct of business, and
 +
generate an atmosphere of frustration and
 +
irritation on the board.
 +
 
 +
The presiding officer can instruct the secretary
 +
to record objectionable or disorderly words
 +
used by the member. The president might say:  
 +
“Mr. Smith, I have warned you three times
 +
to refrain from negative comments about
 +
the Nominating Committee. Three times I have
 +
ordered you to be seated, but you continue to
 +
speak out of order.”
 +
 
 +
If an unruly member quiets and sits down, and
 +
offers no further argument, the matter rests.
 +
Another member may, however, make a motion
 +
of “penalty”; he can make a motion that the
 +
impolite member issue an immediate apology,
 +
that he leave the hall at this time, or that he
 +
be censured. A formal proceeding is presently
 +
“in effect” in this meeting setting. There are
 +
witnesses present, there are members who
 +
have seconded the disciplinary motion, and
 +
the present members make up the body which
 +
determines charges and penalties. Just as any
 +
other motion, this motion requires a vote and
 +
subsequent actions implemented.
 +
 
 +
Strictly speaking, the presiding officer
 +
singularly does not have the power to remove
 +
a member from the board room, but the board,
 +
as the governing assembly, does. If a member
 +
refuses to leave the meeting, the presiding
 +
officer, with judicious appraisal of the offense,
 +
can determine the action that best suits the
 +
situation. He can ask a committee of members
 +
to escort the offender to the door. These
 +
members have the legal right, parliamentary
 +
speaking, to use whatever force is necessary
 +
to remove the offender, but no more. This
 +
should always be the course of last resort; those
 +
individuals who applied unnecessary force
 +
could be liable for damages. A person who
 +
would refuse to leave is likely to be the type of
 +
individual who would bring a lawsuit for damages,
 +
even with little justification.
 +
 
 +
The wise course of action would be to adjourn
 +
the meeting and pursue the matter in some other
 +
way.
 +
 
 +
There also are offenses that may occur outsIde the meetIng.
 +
Society bylaws should contain an article
 +
specifying the offenses outside of the meetings
 +
for which penalties may be imposed; a
 +
statement such as: “any member found guilty of
 +
conduct tending to injure the good name of the
 +
organization, disturb its well-being, or hamper in
 +
its work” would provide a basis for disciplinary
 +
action. However, behavior of this nature is such
 +
a serious offense that it is definitely subject to
 +
disciplinary action, whether the bylaws mention
 +
of it or not.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== INVESTIGATION ==
 +
 
 +
 
 +
Since a society has the right to describe its
 +
standards for membership, the board has a
 +
right to investigate matters which might be in
 +
violation of these standards. The information
 +
gained during the investigative process must
 +
not be made public for confidentiality reasons;
 +
if it does become common knowledge in the
 +
membership of the society, it certainly must not
 +
go beyond the members.
 +
 
 +
After the investigative process is complete, the
 +
board has the right to state that a member no
 +
longer has a position on the board. The society
 +
does not have the right to make public the
 +
specific charge which led to the expulsion, nor
 +
to reveal the details of the matter. To make any
 +
of the facts public, could constitute grounds
 +
for libel. A “trial” and “investigation” does not
 +
have the legality of a court of law; it can only
 +
establish the guilt of an accused and fitness for
 +
membership on the board.
 +
 
 +
A board member has the right to expect that
 +
allegations made against him must be brought
 +
on reasonable ground. If a member is charged
 +
with a punishable offense, then he has the right
 +
to be informed of the charge, given time to
 +
prepare a defense, to appear and defend himself,
 +
and to be fairly and respectfully treated.
 +
A member who is charged with an offense, in
 +
the face of numerous other members who are
 +
in agreement with the charges, may realize that
 +
submitting his resignation to the board may be
 +
a wise course of action, rather than trying to
 +
fight the charge. It behooves the investigating
 +
committee to encourage the offending member,
 +
for the good of the society and all concerned to
 +
offer his resignation quietly, before charges are
 +
preferred. However, the board has no obligation
 +
to suggest, or even accept such a resignation at
 +
any stage of the case, even if it is submitted on
 +
the initiative of the offender.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== STEPS IN THE PROCESS OF FAIR DISCIPLINARY ACTION ==
 +
 
 +
 
 +
A committee composed of board or society
 +
members, recognized for their attributes of
 +
fairness and evenhanded temperament, should
 +
conduct the confidential investigation. The
 +
inquiry should include an interview with
 +
the accused to determine if further action
 +
is warranted, including the advancement of
 +
charges. The investigative committee has no
 +
authority to require the accused, nor any other
 +
society member, to submit to an interview. The
 +
investigation should quietly pursue the gathering
 +
of relevant facts.
 +
 
 +
After investigation, the committee should
 +
prepare its report either exonerating the accused
 +
member or, if no other course of action seems
 +
possible, recommend the adoption of resolutions
 +
that would call the member to task. The
 +
resolution should state that a meeting has been
 +
set in which the accused member may show
 +
cause why he should not be assessed penalties. The resolution would specify the misconduct,
 +
and specify the date and place for a meeting
 +
to take place. Thirty days is generally an
 +
appropriate time to allow the member to prepare
 +
a defense.
 +
 
 +
The charges should state the offense: the act
 +
or misconduct that brings about the possibility
 +
of penalty; and the specific action which
 +
demonstrates the offense. A registered letter
 +
must be sent to the accused, and a copy
 +
retained by the society secretary. At the time of
 +
notification, the member’s rights are suspended
 +
(except those as relate to the special meeting and
 +
his defense.)
 +
 
 +
The presiding officer of the special meeting
 +
should refrain from a prosecutorial tone of the
 +
meeting. His or her role is to see that fairness prevails
 +
and that a just outcome is the consequence of the
 +
preceding investigation. If the accused member
 +
fails to appear at the designated meeting, the
 +
meeting takes place without him or her. This meeting
 +
is in executive session: there is an obligation of
 +
secrecy upon the participants.
 +
 
 +
The meeting is called to order by the chair, who
 +
directs the secretary to read the charges (the
 +
offenses and acts of misconduct). The chair asks
 +
the accused if he is “guilty” or “not guilty” of
 +
the charges. If the accused agrees to guilt, then
 +
the meeting proceeds to a brief description of the
 +
facts, and then immediately on to assessment of
 +
the penalty. If the member states a “not guilty”
 +
claim, then the chair directs the proceedings in
 +
this general order:
 +
<ul>
 +
<li>opening statements from both sides
 +
representing the matter;
 +
<li>statements from witnesses of both sides;
 +
<li>closing arguments.
 +
</ul>
 +
 
 +
When closing arguments are complete, the
 +
accused must leave the room, and deliberations
 +
ensue. If the member is found guilty, the
 +
chair introduces the question of penalty,
 +
which is decided at this time (in the form of
 +
recommendations to the society.) After these
 +
decisions are reached, the member is called
 +
back into the room and informed of the result.
 +
The committee’s report should be signed by
 +
all members of the committee and submitted
 +
in writing, to the society, in executive session.
 +
The report would include the results of the
 +
committee vote, along with a confidential
 +
summary of the basis for the committee’s
 +
findings, and the penalty recommended for
 +
the society to impose. The accused should be
 +
given the opportunity to write his statements
 +
about his case. When the society is ready to
 +
vote upon the recommendations, the accused
 +
leaves the room. The society can vote to impose
 +
the recommended punishment, to decrease the
 +
penalty, or to decline to impose the penalty, but
 +
it cannot increase the penalty. If the committee
 +
recommendation was to exonerate the accused
 +
member, the society cannot impose any penalty.
 +
Most of the time, society boards will meet
 +
and conduct their business with little or no
 +
disruption. Occasionally, disciplinary problems
 +
arise.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
== SUMMARY ==
 +
 
 +
It is a challenging situation when it
 +
becomes necessary to enact disciplinary
 +
measures against a board member, but a society
 +
must assure that order will prevail so as to
 +
maintain a strong and effective organization.

Latest revision as of 07:48, 30 August 2013

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