I've previously blogged about some general fiduciary duties.  At this point I want to point out some additional legal issues which any volunteer board member should be aware. 

Perhaps the most important issue for trade and professional associations is the need to avoid antitrust liability.  The antitrust laws were created to promote fair competition.  They specifically prevent businesses or professions from getting together to set pricing or divide markets.  This means that there should really be no discussions of pricing or comparison of prices.  There should be no discussions about refusing to use certain vendors or refusing to do business with specific individuals or groups.  There are serious consequences to violating the antitrust laws.

Another potential issue for board members is that their actions may be attributed to their organization even when acting as an individual.  If individuals "appear" to be acting with the authority of the organization the organization may be legally responsible for the actions.  This can be tricky because as individuals we have freedom of speech but we need to consider when we are speaking whether people may assume that what we are saying is being said on behalf of the organization.  We often see statements like “the views expressed here are my own and or not those of XYZ.”Having legal counsel to review these issues and advise the board should it start to go astray is essential to avoid legal liability.  Organizations can purchase and you have the right to know whether there is a policy that covers officers and directors so ask.  Many organizations whether by resolution or bylaw have indemnification provisions that will protect volunteer board members.  You should check on this as well.

Please keep volunteering.

 


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