If you can’t say something nice…

say something…don’t say anything at all. This is one of the first lessons most people learn as preschoolers. If they continued to say negative things about others, there were usually consequences, like a timeout or their favourite toy was taken away. This is how most people learned to communicate with others in an appropriate way.

Unfortunately, it seems like some owners could use a refresher on this basic rule.  I frequently hear of owners, managers, directors, or staff being harassed by an owner calling them inappropriate names, yelling at them, or using vulgar language. In some cases, the owner may not know they are being offensive, but in most cases, they do. Maybe they think there are no consequences for their inappropriate behaviour now that they are adults. Afterall, who is going to give them a timeout or take away their favourite toy? There are no condo police.

Fortunately, a recent case suggests that there are consequences for owners who choose to harass others living or working in the condominium.

A recent case involved an owner who regularly engaged in conduct that the judge found to be “antisocial, degrading and harassing” of the condominium’s staff. The owner referred to others working in the building as “obscenely obese”, “massive hulk”, and “tubbo”. She apparently thought that this was an appropriate way to get the attention of the staff when she felt there was an issue that needed to be addressed. The harassment was so frequent and abusive that a protocol was developed that limited her communications with staff to email; she was not to visit the management office. Unfortunately, she continued to be offensive in the frequent emails she sent to staff.

The court reviewed the applicable law.

Section 117 of the Condominium Act, 1998 prohibits a person from carrying on an activity if it is likely to damage the property or cause injury to an individual. “Injury” includes psychological harm. The condominium’s rules also prohibited “immoral, improper, offensive, or unlawful use” of the property. Section 17(3) of the Act required the condominium to take reasonable steps to ensure that she complied with the Act, declaration, by-laws and rules.

The judge also found that the conduct of the owner constituted workplace harassment as it was “a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.” In another case, a condominium owner’s harassing language was found to constitute workplace harassment, which the condominium had a duty to protect its workers from.

The judge found in favour of the condominium and ordered that the owner:

  1. control her behaviour and her manner of communicating with the employees or representatives of the condominium.
  2.  refrain from abusing, harassing, threatening or intimidating any employee or representative of the condominium.
  3. pay costs to the condominium in the amount of $20,000.

Hopefully, this case will serve as a warning to other owners who frequently harass other members of the condominium community.