S.S. from Louisiana writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I am a property manager. I was very excited to begin my new position and looked forward to doing great things for the community. I feel that I have done that since I started. However, there are a couple of owners that bully me on a continuous basis and there seems to be no stopping them. They leave messages and send emails stating what my job duties are, what a terrible manager I am, and so forth. I found out the former manager was threatened and bullied by the same people and that this practice has been going on for years. They wonder why there is so much turn over. I don’t like coming to work anymore. It upsets me even though I have done great things and saved them plenty of money. I am looking for another job but I can hardly stand working here. Do I have any options?
Mister Condo replies:
S.S., truly I am sorry for your situation. Bullies are never easy to deal with and your position as the association’s point of contact between owners and the management company makes your situation particularly precarious. I think you are wise to seek a new position outside of this community but that doesn’t mean you are powerless against the problem. You will likely need some legal assistance in the form of an attorney who is familiar with Louisiana state law about bullying, intimidation, hostile work environments, and the like. You may be in a position to bring charges against these bullies. Of course, that could very well cost you your job but if you were to prevail against them in court, you could make back any lost wages and perhaps a tidy sum for your troubles. My advice is to contact a local attorney to discuss your options.
If that seems too aggressive an option for you, you might consider contacting the Board members (who I assume are not involved in the bullying) and seek their assistance in correcting the abusive behavior. Unit owners have no right to engage in abusive behavior and should be told so by their elected officials (the Board). If the Board refuses to do this, once again, you should seek the advice of an attorney to determine their culpability in harboring this hostile work environment. Again, you face the same consequences from bringing legal action against the Board as you do from bringing legal action against the individual unit owners.
Whatever you decide, I think it would be wise to keep a documented trail of these incidents. Keep copies of abusive emails and phone messages. If you do end up in court, hard evidence will weigh much more heavily than “he said/she said” type testimony. It is unfortunate that it has come to this. Manners, decency, and respect are taught to most of us as children. When these basic principles of a civilized society are ignored, a situation like yours occurs. You may not be able to teach these folks to behave like decent human beings but you may prevail against them in a lawsuit. When common sense doesn’t win them over, taking them to court and getting judgment against them may be your only other option. All the best!