Our Lawsuit - YOU BE THE JUDGE (member expulsion)

Should KRFC continue to spend individual and small business donations defending this lawsuit? Read our arguments about why we think members were expelled illegally and judge for yourself.

We charge that KRFC dismissed members unlawfully[1] by means of an unfair and unreasonable procedure. Colorado statute C.R.S. 7-126-302 requires a "fair and reasonable" procedure "carried out in good faith" for expelling members. Sections (2) and (3) explain conditions for "fair and reasonable" which include formal written notice and a hearing. Neither was provided.

KRFC could appear to be justified by section (1) of the statute which might be interpreted to suggest that their unfair and unreasonable termination procedure is legal simply because it is in their bylaws. This interpretation does not appear to have been supported in court cases. It is inconsistent that an organization with such strongly-stated commitment to community principles would argue that they riteously used an expulsion procedure beneath the standard of state law and common law.

Furthermore KRFC is aware, in past practice and in policy, of what is fair and reasonable. Within the first year of operation, KRFC developed a policy in their Programming Committee with full knowlege and guidance of the General Manager. This policy provided for written warnings and was followed in KRFC's first expulsion. In 2005, KRFC's board approved their current Volunteer Ex pectations and Responsibilities policy which provides for warnings and hearings. This "fair and reasonable" policy was in effect, but was not used by the board of directors, when the March 2006 expulsions occurred.

If we prevail with this charge, the judge might reasonably order the reinstatement of the dismissed members, that the bylaws procedure cannot be used, and that the bylaws be changed to conform with state law. Furthermore KRFC may have to pay both their legal fees and ours, plus possible monetary damages to those dismissed -- hard-earned and much-needed money which could instead be used to the direct benefit of KRFC.

We proposed to resolve this charge in 2006 by requesting KRFC promise not to use the bylaws expulsion and retroactively apply the station's policy to those expelled, allowing the policy's hearing to determine their fate instead of the board's expulsion. This would have cost very little money in comparison to what has been spent and will be spent if this continues in court, and would have demonstrated a commitment to fairness.

[1] Charges quoted from the lawsuit:
  1. On March 16, 2006, the KRFC Board of Directors voted to revoke the memberships of Plaintiffs Bame and Arthur, both founding members of KRFC who participated in the petition drive challenging the changes in the mission statement and the stations' governance and programming.
  2. The KRFC Board of Directors failed to use any policy adopted to address disputes regarding membership status, including the progressive discipline policy it had formerly developed for volunteers.
  3. The KRFC Board of Directors justified the membership terminations by referring to bylaw III.1: "Members shall not conduct any activity that is detrimental to the welfare of the Corporation. Such conduct shall result in membership revocation as deemed by the Board of Directors."
  4. Neither the KRFC Board of Director's actions nor the implementation of bylaw III.1 itself are fair and reasonable procedures carried out in good faith, pursuant to C.R.S. 7-126-302.
  5. No notice was provided to the members prior to their revocation.
  6. No substantive charges or bases for termination were presented.
  7. The members were afforded no opportunity to be heard by the Board of Directors before their memberships were revoked.