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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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Can a civic organization impose new By-Laws that restrict the

Customer Question

Can a civic organization impose new By-Laws that restrict the rights of a selected class of membership to meet requirements not in place when a member was elected to that class?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.

Zachary D. Norris :

By laws may be amended which have a retro active effect if the amendment process is followed as stated in the organizational agreement.

Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
Membership in a civic organization is not something generally seen as a property interest on which you could base a legal action. Thus, unless you have paid membership fees or made some other donation which qualifies you as having a property interest in the membership, the organization's change of the rules which makes you no longer a member does not leave you with any sort of legal remedy.

Does this answer your question?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I don't know of any "amendment process" in old or recent By-Laws. Would the new By-Laws have to state that they are retro actve? I do pay annual dues to this organization.
Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
The amendment process would not be in the by-laws. It will be in the Original Organization charter or Organization Agreement.

If the new by-laws do not state that the affect is retroactive, then you will not lose your membership until the annual date on which the next dues are due.

However, since you have paid membership dues, and the organization is maintaining that you are disqualified as a member immediately, then you do have a legal option to sue.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I'm not sure they are saying I am not a member (I am a Life Member of the orgainzation). They are saying that I can not hold an elected office, that I can not vote, and have not given me any course of action to become an "active" member. When I was voted in as a Life Member, I retained all the rights and priviledges of a general member, but was not required to participate in all of the activities. The new By-Laws state that a Life Member must attend "50% of all events, meetings, work parties, etc". However, they have not provided me with a list of all of those "events, meeting, work parties, etc." Further, there is no requirement for an "active" member to perform to this standard. They are asking me to do more than is required of an "active" member.


I have been around a long time (since 1983) and I am not aware of any Original Charter or Organization Agreement.



Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
There has to be an original founding document somewhere. An organization does not come into existence by the by laws alone.

I am not able to give you further advice in this forum, as to answer anything further would require me to read the documents of your organization.

However, since you are "life member" then you should have standing to stay as such as originally agreed. If you get benefits adn have paid dues, you could likely sue for breach of contract if they are trying to take these away because of requirements to which you did not originally agree when you became a life member.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you. This has confirmed my opinion.
Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
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