Resident manager harassed by unit owners

J.S. writes:

Dear Paul:

Can a condo resident manager claim harassment by a few condo owners who constantly berate and criticize his or her performance without basis? Is this a private lawyer case or a human rights complaint. Would financial damages be a possibility?

Paul replies:

Dear J.S.:

I will assume that the resident manager (RM) is an employee of the condo corporation. As an employee, the RM has an expectation to be treated fairly by his/her employer. This would include freedom from harassment by unit owners.

As an employee, any performance issues should be brought to the RM’s attention by his/her supervisor. In this case the supervisor is the board. In all likelihood the President and one other Board member in the absence of the President. Any issue with the RM’s performance should be submitted in writing to the board and unit owners should never confront the RM directly. The RM does not work for individual unit owners, but for the corporation, and the corporation is managed by the board.

I would recommend that the RM place his/her concerns in writing to the board outlining the details of any incidents. This should include the name of the unit owners, what they said (the exact words), time, date, location and the names of any witnesses. This record will assist the board in determining what should happen next. The board will have to decide if there is any validity to the criticisms and act accordingly. In any event, I would suggest that the board notify the vocal unit owners in writing to cease and desist their inappropriate behaviour.

Harassment has to be considered in light of the actual actions described as harassment. Under the Manitoba Human Rights Code an individual could file a complaint if the harassment falls under one or more of the prohibited grounds for discrimination.

Applicable characteristics

9(2)  The applicable characteristics for the purposes of clauses (1)(b) to (d) are

(a) ancestry, including colour and perceived race;

(b) nationality or national origin;

(c) ethnic background or origin;

(d) religion or creed, or religious belief, religious association or religious activity;

(e) age;

(f) sex, including sex-determined characteristics or circumstances, such as pregnancy, the possibility of pregnancy, or circumstances related to pregnancy;

(g) gender identity;

(h) sexual orientation;

(i) marital or family status;

(j) source of income;

(k) political belief, political association or political activity;

(l) physical or mental disability or related characteristics or circumstances, including reliance on a service animal, a wheelchair, or any other remedial appliance or device;

(m) social disadvantage.

      From your description, I do not think that the behaviour would constitute harassment under the code.

      The other area to explore would be defamation. This, however, would require the RM to consult a lawyer to determine if there are any grounds to sue.

If the harassment is serious and causes mental distress, two additional areas to look at are Workers’ Compensation, and the Workplace Safety and Health Act that requires an employer to provide a safe work environment. 

      The first steps to resolve this matter are described in the first three paragraphs of this blog. Hope this helps!

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