[hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Shirley Hicks shirley at velochicdesign.com
Mon Jan 4 23:16:56 CET 2016

Hey everyone,

Hope all the hacker and maker spaces are off to a good start with the new year.

Have a question regarding a member dispute I need to crowdsource. This is within the US, and specifically Alabama. I’m not a US native.

We had a dispute develop between two members of the space that originated in an outside incident, but which then overflowed into the space after a failure to resolve successfully. This is our first such interpersonal problem that has developed between members. As we are still a relatively new group (3.75 years since first meeting, three since first incorporation, two in our space) and have been adding policies and standing rules as needed, while we have a basic set of rules in place for this type of thing, we’re having to walk through our first application of them carefully. 

The particulars that I can state are that we’re not dealing with the incident itself, but rather with behavior at a subsequent meeting, in which one member behaved inappropriately, the other responded. One member has accused the other of harassment. (we have a policy that has been approved by the membership)  We have drafted, (but have not yet sent) warning letters to both. There is a push developing from within a portion of the membership to vote out one of the members for the behavior, but the member concerned is also likely to push back because of his own concerns regarding what he sees as defamation of character which may affect other matters with which he is dealing. 

We are considering seeking legal or mediation advice locally as we want be able to deal with this appropriately. Am wondering if other spaces have dealt with similar disputes and what you learned in the process. 

Our bylaws concerning member rights and responsibilities are at http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/By-Laws_of_The_Red_Mountain_Makers#Rights_and_responsibilities and our standing rules are at http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/Standing_rules#Be_excellent_to_each_other
Our anti-harassment policy - http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/Policy:_Antiharassment

Thanks for any input and experience you can offer in advance.

Shirley Hicks
Red Mountain makers

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