If Will Smith is to be disciplined by SAG-AFTRA for beating Chris Rock to the Oscars, the union’s constitution clarifies in great detail how the disciplinary process will unfold. SAG-AFTRA covers artists for the Oscars, where Rock was the presenter on Sunday night and as such considers it an incident in the workplace that is subject to disciplinary review.
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Earlier today, Smith resigned his membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after its Governing Body initiated disciplinary action against him. “I have responded directly to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct,” he said. “My actions at the 94th Oscars were shocking, painful and unforgivable,” adding that he “will accept any further consequences that the board (of the governors) deems appropriate.”
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On Monday, SAG-AFTRA said in a statement: “As the union representing presenters and other artists working at the Oscars, SAG-AFTRA is focused on ensuring that our members always work in a safe environment. Violence or physical abuse in the workplace is never appropriate and the union condemns any such behavior.The incident involving Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars last night was unacceptable.We have been in contact with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC about this incident and will work to ensure that this conduct is properly addressed. “
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The union’s statement concluded by noting that “SAG-AFTRA does not comment on any pending disciplinary process for members” – indicating that the incident is also being reviewed for disciplinary action there.
Expulsion is the most serious punishment SAG-AFTRA can impose, but other options include suspension, fines, reprimands and a vote of no confidence. The union has a standing delegation to both its Probable Cases Committee – to determine if there is a “probable cause” that the union’s statutes have been violated – and to its Disciplinary Committee, but only a Disciplinary Committee’s decision to expel a member will automatically go to the National Board, whose next ordinary meeting is April 30th.
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Article XIV of the SAG-AFTRA Constitution, which deals with “discipline of members”, states:
A. A member may be reprimanded, censored, fined, suspended or expelled from membership of the Union for any of the following offenses:
Violation of any of the provisions of this Constitution or policies, rules or regulations adopted by the Union or any of its premises.
Participate in actions that are antagonistic to the interests or integrity of the Union, any of its affiliated local people or its membership, including the provision of services under the jurisdiction of the Union to any employer declared unfair by the National Board.
B. Procedure for Discipline
Any good-reputed member, any affiliated local, National Executive Director or their designee may lodge written charges against any member of the Secretary-Treasurer or their designee claiming facts describing any of the offenses described. in this article.
Indictment must be filed within six (6) months after knowledge of the act or event that gave rise to the charge. Charges must state with reasonable specificity the nature of the offense and the facts on which it is based.
3. The National Board, or its designated, shall review the charges and dismiss them if they have not been filed in a timely manner, if the act complained of does not constitute a violation subject to discipline under this Constitution, or in the absence of sufficient evidence to determine probable cause to proceed.
4. Unless the charges are dismissed under subsection B (3) of this Article, the Secretary-Treasurer or his designated or the National Executive Director or his designated shall give written notice to the accused member or members attaching a copy of the charges and determining of a consultation date at least fourteen (14) days in advance.
5. Prior to a hearing before the Disciplinary Committee, the National Board may appoint one or more representatives to meet with a member who has been charged with one of the offenses listed in this Article. The national board representative (s) can make a decision on the claim, which, if the member agrees, will be final and binding. If the member does not accept the offer, a disciplinary committee will be convened to hear and decide the indictment, as described in this article.
6. The National Board of Health and Welfare or a disciplinary committee set up in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the National Board of Health and Welfare shall hear and decide the charges. At the hearing, an accused party must be given the opportunity to present evidence and testimony and may be assisted by a representative. The accused member must be notified in writing of the decision and any punishment. The National Board of Health and Welfare or a disciplinary appeals committee appointed by it is authorized to review the disciplinary committee’s decision and any punishment of its own motion or over the member’s written complaint submitted to the treasurer or his nominee, or National Executive Director, or their nominee, within twenty-one (21) calendar days after dispatch. of notification of the decision of the Disciplinary Committee. In the event of any complaint, the charges may be upheld, dismissed, the decision amended or the charges referred to the Disciplinary Committee for further consideration.
7. A member may be expelled from membership only by two-thirds (2/3) of the votes cast by the members of the National Board voting on the matter.
The National Board of Health and Welfare may adopt rules for the investigation of accusations and the conduct of any hearings or complaints in accordance with this Article.
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The last time SAG-AFTRA publicly took steps to discipline a member came in early January 2021, when the union’s national board met for a special session to consider disciplinary action against former President Donald Trump, a longtime member and former star of The apprentice.
As first reported by Deadline, the board found “probable cause” that Trump had “violated the union’s constitution,” and ordered the case to be heard by SAG-AFTRA’s Disciplinary Committee. Prosecutors cited Trump’s role in inciting the January 6 attack on the US capital, and his “maintenance of a ruthless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the security of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members. . ” Faced with a possible expulsion, Trump stepped back in a mood, making a disciplinary hearing unnecessary.
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