Bylaws & Codes: Code of Conduct

See also: bylaws, online code of conduct, online meeting rules

Code of Conduct

[Proposed 10/18/2023; adopted 1/17/2024 by a vote of the membership]

I Purpose

The 36th consists of volunteers (community members) from all over the district to work together to promote a truly representative Democratic Party open to all who support its principles. 

In the interest of fostering an open and welcoming environment, all members are expected to make participation in Democratic organizations a harassment-free experience and inclusive for everyone regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, level of experience, socioeconomic status, nationality, class, personal and/or physical appearance, race, religion or lack thereof, or sexual identity and orientation.

This Code and these Procedures are intended to set expectations and provide a framework for accountability. They are not exhaustive nor static and will be updated periodically as needed.

This document should be interpreted and used with these goals in mind.

II Definitions

As used in these procedures:

36th Democratsthe membership, PCOs, volunteers, and elected officers of the 36th District Democrats
Endorsed and Endorsable CandidatesAny candidate, endorsed, eligible or potentially eligible (dependent on completion of questionnaire/interview for example) for endorsement by the 36th
Coderefers to The Code of Conduct adopted by the 36th District Democrats at a regular membership meeting, as thereafter amended from time to time
Chairthe Chair of the 36th District Democrats
Executive Boardthe elected officers of the Executive Board of the 36th District Democrats
Elected OfficialsThose serving in public office for any jurisdiction within which a resident of the 36th District is a voter
Eventa gathering, meeting, or event organized by the 36th District Democrats. This includes membership meetings, board meetings, and may include events sponsored by the 36th District Democrats in coordination with other organizations
PCOPrecinct Committee Officer of the 36th District Democrats, including elected, appointed, and acting PCOs unless otherwise limited to one or more of those subgroups of PCOs
Membermeans anyone considered as a member of the 36th District Democrats according to the organization’s bylaws.
Membershiprefers to the collective group of members of the 36th
Proceduresthe process and procedures for addressing violations of the code of conducts and complaints thereof, as defined in the Code of Conduct document
Subcommitteethe Code of Conduct subcommittee of the 36th District Democrats, as defined in the Code of Conduct document

III. Scope

A. All members of the 36th Democrats; the elected, appointed, and acting PCOs of the 36th; volunteers; the 36th Democrats Executive Board; Endorsed and Endorsable Candidates; and Elected Officials are expected to abide by the Code and may, if warranted after review of an alleged violation of the Code, be subject to one or more consequences specified herein for violation of the Code. The Executive Board may decline to review alleged violations by members in circumstances in which the allegations are also being reviewed by government agencies, courts, or local organizations.

B. The 36th Democrats convenes in physical and virtual spaces. The Code may be used in any physical or virtual location where 36th Democrats have gathered and/or are collaborating when conducting 36th Democrats business. However, events that take place in public spaces, such as conferences and meetup groups, will generally have their own code of conduct and/or similar community guidelines. As such, the guidelines for a specific event should also be followed.

C. These procedures do not apply to other Democratic Party bodies, whose conduct is regulated by existing policies and/or who are not members, PCOs, Executive Board, or elected officials of the 36th Democrats. However, individuals who are elected to represent the 36th Democrats at either the county or state Democratic level are subject to this Code and these procedures even as they are also covered by their respective county and state party Codes of Conduct.

IV. Code of Conduct

A. General Guidelines

  1. The 36th Democrats is committed to these guidelines and when appropriate will exercise its inherent right as a deliberative assembly to implement consequences for members for serious or repeated violation of these guidelines. A member who violates these principles at a 36th Democrats event and/or meeting may be asked to leave the event. A member who continues to violate these principles or whose violation is especially severe in nature may be asked to leave the organization.
  2. The following list is not exhaustive, but it is intended to help all of us communicate well and avoid unnecessary friction so that the 36th Democrats community can collaborate better together. Where appropriate, these are applicable for both in-person and virtual/online interactions.
    • a) These behaviors are generally considered harassment and prohibited: physical or verbal threats; unwelcome attention; stalking; pushing, shoving, or use of physical force; behavior that creates a disturbance or is dangerous, including lewd or generally offensive behavior or language; using sexually explicit or offensive language or conduct; excessive profanity; obscene gestures; use of racial, religious, sexual, gender, ability, or ethnic slurs.
  3. Members should keep in mind that:
    • a) Their work will be used by other people, and they in turn, will depend on the work of others. 
    • b) Decisions they make will often affect others in the community.
    • c) Disagreements happen, but should not be an excuse for poor behavior and bad manners. When disagreements do happen, work together to solve them effectively and in a way that ensures that everyone has a reasonable opportunity to be heard and understood.
    • d) People may not understand jokes, sarcasm and oblique references in the same way that you do. If you think your conversation is making another community member uncomfortable, try to make amends and move forward.
  4. Members should promote a culture of respect, inclusion and equity by:
    • a) Always remembering to use welcoming and inclusive language and be friendly and patient.
    • b) Assuming good intent on the part of other speakers and participants.
    • c) Being kind, considerate, respectful and professional by treating all individuals with a sense of dignity, respect and worth.
    • d) Making a personal commitment to be nonjudgmental about cultural differences, living conditions and the lifestyles of others.
    • e) Avoiding profane, racist, other prejudicial, exclusionary, abusive or sexualized language.
    • f) Avoiding disruptive behavior.
  5. Members should ensure their own safety and promote a safe environment for others by:
    • a) Respecting others’ personal space and making physical contact with others only after receiving their consent. 
    • b) Understanding that physical contact (sexual or otherwise) is not appropriate without clearly articulated consent. Consent can be instantly revoked and prior consent, intoxicated comments and/or actions are not consent. Attire is not consent.
    • c) Immediately ceasing any behavior that is reasonably perceived as harassing, abusive or violent, and respecting others’ feelings for what behavior qualifies as such.
    • d) Administrators and contributors to online spaces, such as webpages and Facebook groups, should respect the reasonably assumed communal nature of such spaces.
    • e) Avoiding deliberate dissemination of misinformation or disinformation, particularly that which puts the health, safety, or security of the community at risk. Be aware of the source of information and the biases of any given source when citing them.
    • f) As political leaders in their communities, members are expected to make themselves aware of and reasonably anticipate the sensitivities of others.
    • g) Consuming legal intoxicants such as alcohol responsibly at 36th Democrats events, and only at events where alcohol consumption is appropriate. 36th Democrats members refrain from providing these substances to any person underage and/or consuming while underage. 36th Democrats members and volunteers should refrain from participating in 36th Democrats events or activities while intoxicated. 36th Democrats members accept that a person under the influence cannot provide reasonable consent.
    • h) Respecting others’ property, and property of the organization to which the member belongs. 
  6. Members should respect consent with any recording or photography
    • a) Any live streaming or other recording of videos or photos should be announced to members when it will begin or take place.
      1. In-person events should announce this at the beginning and post notification for attendees.
      2. Virtual events should announce this at the beginning and display notification in the meeting software or chat throughout the meeting.
    • b) If photographs of attendees are taken during in-person events, ask permission to take pictures and avoid anyone with a “do not photograph” indicator on their nametag.
    • c) Do not publish photos, videos, and audio of someone who objects or asks to be excluded.
  7. If any member experiences or witnesses behaviors that violate these principles, they are asked to take appropriate and fair corrective action.

B. Conduct Outside Official Events

  1. 36th Democrats promote Democratic values both inside the organization and outside.  This section of the Code applies to conduct outside official meetings, events, or other 36th Democrats sponsored events. 
  1. 36th Democrats support candidates, initiatives, and other political activities that are consistent with the 36th Democrats Platform.  Support for candidates or causes that are inconsistent with the Platform may be considered a violation of the Code of Conduct.
  1. 36th Democrats respect the rights and property of others in all settings in which they are, or may be perceived, as acting as 36th Democrats. 
    • a) They do not discriminate against others based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, income, or socioeconomic status.
    • b) They respect the opinions and perspectives of those with whom they disagree.
    • c) They do not engage in any form of stalking, sexual harassment, or harassment of any other sort.
    • d) They do not use racist, sexist, or offensive language.
      1. They avoid offending others and are responsive if others are offended.
      2. They do not use hostile or demeaning language toward others. 
      3. They do not engage in aggressive or disruptive speech when interacting with others. 
      4. They do not disrupt activities or events.
    • e) They are respectful of personal boundaries.
      1. They do not touch others who have expressed verbal or physical discomfort with physical contact.
      2. Consent must be obtained prior to any sexual contact.  Consent may be revoked at any time. Consent may be revoked in any way that is reasonably understood. If consent is revoked, contact must immediately stop. 
      3. They do not publish or in any way distribute images or photos of another without express permission.
      4. They are not physically, sexually, verbally or in any other way aggressive toward another. 
    • f) 36th Democrats are respectful of the personal property of others and the property of the 36th. They do not damage or take without permission the property of others. 
    • g) If it is permissible to consume alcohol during an activity, 36th Democrats do so responsibly.
    • h) The Code of Conduct for meetings and 36th Democrats sponsored events also applies, when reasonable, to activities outside 36th Democrats sponsored events.
    • i) Any 36th Democrat who has violated this Code of Conduct may be sanctioned by the 36th Democrats. The procedures outlined in the Code of Conduct apply to all violations.  In addition, if the violation of the Code of Conduct requires or warrants immediate action, any Executive Board member may take any action that member deems necessary to manage the situation.   

Procedures for Violations of the Code of Conduct

A. Code of Conduct Subcommittee

  1. Definition: The Code of Conduct subcommittee exists to provide recommendations to the Executive Board and the membership regarding potential courses of action in response to complaints submitted under the 36th Democrats Code of Conduct.
  1. Creation: The subcommittee is formed by the Chair of the Executive Board on an ad hoc basis when there is a complaint or by the Vice-Chair if the complaint involves the Chair
  1. Composition: The subcommittee consists of the Chair or Vice-Chair and no fewer than two members of the Executive Board as elected by the Executive Board. The subcommittee may optionally include a member in good standing of the 36th Democrats or a relevant member of the county or state party.
  1. Alleged violators, victims, and complainants are not eligible for selection on the subcommittee. Their place shall be filled by election by the Executive Board.
  1. Members of the subcommittee shall continue serving through the disposition of the complaint or project, including Board Members even if their term of office has expired.

B. Initiation of Complaint

  1. Who Initiates: A complaint can be initiated by a member, PCO, volunteer, or elected official of the 36th, or a volunteer participating in an event officially sanctioned by the 36th, such as a membership meeting or a fundraising event. The person making the complaint need not be the alleged victim of a violation in order to initiate a complaint.
  1. Form: A complaint must clearly identify the portion of the Code alleged to be violated, describe the violation, and identify the alleged victim and any witnesses known to the submitting member. The requirements of this subsection may be waived by the Executive Board.
  1. Submission: A complaint should be submitted via email to the Chair and Vice-Chair, unless the complaint alleges a violation by the Chair, in which case the complaint shall instead be submitted to the Vice Chair and another board member
    • a) If a complaint is submitted to any other Executive Board member(s), they will immediately work with the Chair or Vice-Chair to initiate forming a subcommittee following the process described above.
  1. In advance of accepting any complaint, the complainant will be advised that in the case of potential criminal conduct the complainant may request that no notification is made to law enforcement, but such notification will be at the discretion of the Chair in consultation with the Executive Board.
    • a) If the allegation involves a situation requiring mandatory reporting to any authority under state law, it will be reported as required by statute.

C. Initial Procedures

  1. The full Executive Board shall be notified of the existence of a complaint within ten (10) business days of receiving the complaint.
  1. The subcommittee shall within 15 business days of receiving the complaint make a recommendation to the Executive Board as a whole what further actions, including disciplinary actions if any, should be pursued.
    • a) If the subcommittee recommends that the Executive Board shall review and act on the complaint, the complainant and the alleged violator shall be notified, provided with an outline of the next procedural steps, and reminded about the confidential nature of the proceedings.
    • b) The subcommittee may make an interim suspension of an alleged violator for a period of up to 10 business days from all 36th Democrats activities and appointments, with the exception of business meetings of the 36th Democrats at which the alleged violator has a right to vote. The Executive Board may by two thirds vote extend the interim suspension until the conclusion of the Code of Conduct process. Nothing in this provision limits the inherent authority of the 36th Democrats to further govern the participation of one of its members during a meeting.
  1. Action by the Executive Board may be suspended during any criminal investigation.

D. Duties of the Executive Board

  1. Neither the 36th Democrats nor the Executive Board nor the subcommittee are expected to have the resources, skill, and/or time to conduct their own independent investigation. The subcommittee’s task  is to assess the complaint to the extent reasonable.
    • a) The subcommittee considers the seriousness of the violation alleged; the specificity of the complaint;  any response by the alleged perpetrator of a violation;  any other factual statements; and any statements by witnesses. 
    • b) The subcommittee’s goal is to prepare a recommendation to the Executive Board which evaluates the recommendation and may take action.  In cases where the Membership must act on a recommendation, the Executive Board prepares a recommendation to the membership.  
  1. A complaint may be resolved or dismissed,  without further action, in Subcommittee, at the Executive Board, or at a Membership meeting. 
  1. The Chair or Vice Chair may call such special meetings of the Executive Board as are necessary to resolve a complaint.
  1. The Executive Board shall offer the alleged violator an opportunity to provide their version of events. The alleged violator is not entitled to interview or cross-examine witnesses at this time. This opportunity does not have to be in person and can take the form of a written document.
  1. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances, the Executive Board, and any disciplinary subcommittee(s), shall conclude their work in response to a complaint within 90 days from the initial filing of the complaint.
  1. In the event a complaint is summarily dismissed by the subcommittee or the Executive Board, the complainant shall be notified of the extent of investigation undertaken and the reason the complaint was summarily dismissed.
  1. The Executive Board shall be informed in summary fashion about any complaints submitted to the Chair since the last meeting of the Executive Board.
  1. If a member of the 36th Democrats is suspended or expelled, the Chair shall give notice to the membership within 72 hours of the action taken.
  1. All decisions by the Board and the Subcommittee are final and may not be appealed. 

E. Consequences of Violation

  1. Warning/Reprimand. The subcommittee shall review with the violator (in the presence of the complainant at the complainant’s option) the violator’s conduct, clearly indicate to the violator that the conduct was inappropriate, and advise the repetition will lead to further and more serious disciplinary action, and obtain from the violator a plan to reform the inappropriate conduct. The Executive Board of the 36th Democrats may also choose to adopt a resolution by simple majority, which shall be made part of the minutes of the Executive Board meeting, describing the conduct determined to be violative of the Code and formally reprimanding the violator.
  1. Suspension. By affirmative two-thirds vote the Executive Board may,  include in its resolution of Reprimand, or in connection with any recommendations of expulsion by the 36th, immediate suspension of the violator from all 36th Democrats appointments and activities for a duration of up to one year unless the Executive Board and/or the membership by subsequent resolution determines that the suspension should end sooner.
  1. Expulsion. By affirmative majority vote of the 36th Democrats membership at a meeting with a quorum of membership after special notice of at least 14 days, a violator may be expelled from the body and the organization previously represented by the violator notified that it is required to elect a new representative in order to participate in further meetings of the 36th. Both the violator and the complainant shall be entitled but not required to address the 36th Democrats during debate on the motion to expel for a period of no more than five minutes.
  1. The Chair, Vice-Chair, and State Committee members may be only removed from office and expelled by a vote of the elected and appointed PCOs, with regular members and acting PCOs ineligible to vote in this matter, as those PCOs are the only members entitled under statute and bylaws to elect those officers.

F. Confidentiality

  1. All parts of these procedures shall remain confidential, if so requested by the complainant, except for any required votes for any sanction by the 36th Democrats Executive Board or membership, which shall occur in a public session. By requesting confidentiality, a party agrees to cooperate with the 36th Democrats in maintaining confidentiality and will, if requested, participate in 36th Democrats meetings only by proxy during the pendency of an investigation or interim suspension.
  2. Confidentiality will be waived in the case of a criminal investigation or court subpoena.

G. Robert’s Rules

  1. In matters not expressly addressed in these Rules, Robert’s Rules may be consulted for guidance but need not be followed if, in the opinion of the Executive Board, it would be more appropriate in the specific circumstances to follow an alternative course.  All decisions by the subcommittee, the Executive Board and the Chair, or acting Chair, are final.