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Watch Your Mouth Slander and Harassment Are No Joke

 When you were little, your mother might have told you, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  

 Momma was no fool. That was sound advice then, and it's even smarter in today’s litigious world, where what you say really can be held against you in a court  of law. Crossing the line from what you might consider free speech or personal  opinion into libel or harassment territory can cause not only serious acrimony  among neighbors, but it can result in expensive legal consequences as well.  

 Dirty Words

 We all have occasional differences of opinion with our neighbors—and sometimes we might even dislike them outright. That being said, it’s one thing to call your neighbor, board president or manager a jerk, but it’s an entirely different issue to accuse him or her of being a criminal, or a  sexual predator, and then distribute flyers to that effect under the doors of  everyone in your building.  

 “We have had instances where a shareholder reported a board member to Child  Services in connection with an alleged—and wholly meritless—child abuse charge," says Jeffrey S. Reich, Esq. of the law firm of Wolf  Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP in New York City. "We've had board candidates who have raised others'  past criminal conduct, and an instance where one board member accused another  on a public blog of battering his wife.”  

 All of the cases mentioned by Reich ended up in a courtroom, with accusations  that the person who made the allegations slandered, libeled, or defamed the  other person. Did they merely state—or could they state—what they honestly believed was true? Before that’s answered, a little legalese 101 is needed.  

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4 Comments

  • If a president of the board makes alligations that you swayed and forced a elderly unit owner do something against her will and you are a Nurse and said that is elder abuse and she can report you but the allegations were false He/She also used profanity and intimidating body language and threw me out of the meeting leaving the others board members behind not asking them to leave either
  • I am an 80 years old (Jan !!) new Board President. A 65 year resident recently used some very abusive language to me and sent a slanderous E-Mail to all residents. What can I do to stop it?
  • Sounds familiar ! We have had to have attorney guidance in certain situations . Our many rules include a generalized clause regarding “noxious behavior”. Our Board members and the community have received hate filled emails also. In response warnings were sent to the community about mass distribution of personal messages being a misuse of the community directory . Any emailed messages to the entire community come from a designated person on the Board ., The Board normally sends multiple warning letters for a violation . To stop a harasser , the Board president informed the harasser further emails to himself would be blocked if the action continued. The Board approved a new policy that the property management company would send a warning letter citing the “noxious behavior” saying that the first communication was a warning but any further correspondence and (maybe) any further action in the handling of such violations would be from the Board’s attorney with expenses billed to the resident .
  • Sounds familiar ! We have had to have attorney guidance in certain situations . Our many rules include a generalized clause regarding “noxious behavior”. Our Board members and the community have received hate filled emails also. In response warnings were sent to the community about mass distribution of personal messages being a misuse of the community directory . Any emailed messages to the entire community come from a designated Board director . The Board normally sends multiple warning letters for a violation . To stop a harasser , the Board president informed the harasser that his emails to the president would be blocked if the action continued. The Board approved a new policy that, when warranted, the property management company would send a warning letter to offenders citing the “noxious behavior. ” It would say that the first communication was a warning but any further correspondence and (maybe) any further action in the handling of such violations would be from the Board’s attorney with expenses billed to the resident .