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From: "Linda Haas Davenport" <>
Subject: Grievance Procedures - Conflict?
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2006 06:27:12 -0500


A request was made for the parliamentarian to issue an opinion on
whether or not the recently passed Grievance Procedures are in
conflict with the bylaws and whether or not the recommended bylaw
amendment is necessary. Since Josh has been unavailable I spent
some hours with the Procedures and Strugis. Here is what I found.
*****

The question of whether or not the new GPC Procedures are in
conflict with the bylaws is actually in two parts.

The first being "are the procedures themselves in conflict with
the bylaws?"

According to Strugis the hierarchy of authority is: Bylaws, then
standing procedures and then parliamentary procedures.

Bylaws - Article VI - Duties/Qualifications of the Advisory
Board.
Section 3: The responsibilities of the Advisory Board shall
include: ...advising and mediating, if necessary, any grievances
or appeals, ...

Article XIV. Grievance Procedures and appeals process
Section 1. All members of The USGenWeb Project have the right to
request that the Advisory Board advise on issues related to
grievances and appeals and to mediate, if necessary.
Section 2. Members should submit their grievance or appeal to one
or more of the board representatives from their region.

The ways and means of "advising and mediating" are not specified
in the bylaws.

When the bylaws do not include the ways and means of addressing
an issue the governing board has the right to establish
procedures or establish a committee to address the issue. The
bylaws assign the responsibility of "advising and mediating" to
the Advisory Board, but any governing body may delegate certain
responsibilities to other members or a committee unless the
bylaws specify otherwise.

Strugis pages 170 & 171. The basic principle of the delegation of
powers, duties and responsibilities is that the members,
officers, boards, or committees delegating authority retain full
responsibility for the performance or exercise of the powers,
duties and responsibilities they have delegated. They also are
responsible for negligence and its consequences in the exercise
of the delegated authority. ...

Since Strugis allows for the delegating of duties assigned by the
bylaws, the Advisory Board has the authority to delegate
"advising and mediating" to a committee. The Grievance Procedures
include a provision (Section 8) for an appeal to the Advisory
Board to make a final decision.

Therefore the Grievance Procedures themselves are not in conflict
with the bylaws.

The 2nd part of the question of whether or not the Grievance
Procedures are in conflict with the bylaws has to do with whether
or not the Grievance Committee is a standing committee or a
special committee.

We first have to look at the bylaws for references to Standing
Committees. The Bylaws do not specifically reference "Standing
committees". Article VII provides for an Election Subcommittee
but otherwise no committee is specifically referenced in the
bylaws. In Section 2 of Article VI (Duties/Qualifications of the
Advisory Board) a reference is made to "all sub-committees" so
the assumption can be made that sub-committees, other than the
EC, can be established by the Advisory Board.

Strugis (Definitions of Parliamentary Terms, page 266) defines
Standing Committees as: A committee that has a fixed term of
office and that performs any work in its field assigned to it by
the bylaws or referred to it by the organization, the board, or
the presiding officer.

Strugis states (page 178) that Standing Committees _should_ be
defined in the bylaws it does not say they must be defined in the
bylaws. The Project's bylaws are silent on this and there are no
Standing Procedures for Standing Committees. Without those we
must refer to Strugis references below). Strugis points out that
"an organization may provide for and fix the duties of as many
standing committees as it finds useful."

The Grievance Procedures include the structure of the Grievance
Committee which conforms to Strugis requirements of a Standing
Committee, thus defining the committee a standing committee,

The last part of the question has to do with the requested bylaw
amendment - is it needed?

Any committee established by the governing body, unless
specifically called for in the bylaws, may be disbanded by the
authority that created it. The intent of the Grievance Procedures
Committee was to establish a standing committee along the lines
of the EC. A committee that could not be disbanded by future ABs
and one that would operate at arm's length from the AB.

Without the bylaw amendment any future AB can disband the
Grievance Committee and without the bylaw amendment Article XIV
of the bylaws leaves in question whether or not a grievance could
bypass the Grievance Committee and demand that the AB consider a
grievance.

Summary: Even without the bylaw amendment the Grievance Committee
Procedures themselves are not in conflict with the bylaws.
However, without the bylaw amendment any future AB can disband
the Grievance Committee and without the amendment Section VI
article 3 leaves open the question of whether or not a grievance
could bypass the committee.

Linda Haas Davenport
NC USGenWeb Project

References:

Strugis pg 176 Standing Committees:
A standing committee does any work within its particular field
this is assigned to it by the bylaws or referred to it by the
organization or the board. Its terms of service is usually the
same as the terms of the officers. Standing committees provide
every-ready and experienced groups to which work may be referred
at any time. They handle many tasks that need to be carried out
on a regular basis. ...

An organization may provide for and fix the duties of as many
standing committees as it finds useful. The name, method of
selecting members, usual duties, terms of office and requirements
should be included in the bylaws.

Pg 178 - Powers, Rights and Duties of Committees:
The powers, rights, and duties of each standing committee and of
important special committees that are appointed periodically
should be provided for in the bylaws. The powers, rights and
duties of other special committees should be provided for in the
motion creating them or in the instructions given to them. Since
no committee has inherent powers, rights, or duties, these must
be delegated to it by the creating or appointing authority. Even
Pg 179
an executive committee or board of directors has no power and no
duties except those delegated to it by the bylaws or by vote of
the membership. (See Delegation of Authority by Officers and
Body, page 170)
All committees are responsible to and under the direction and
control of the authority that created them. Standing committees
are responsible to and under the control of the voting body and
the governing board when it is acting for the voting body in the
intervals between meetings. Special committees appointed by the
membership, the governing board, or the president are responsible
to the appointing authority.


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