R.G. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Are there any state or federal laws that govern Board conduct regarding treatment of a physically impaired Board member by other Board members? For example, if a person has a hearing loss and is ridiculed or negatively referenced in couched terms in Board business because of it, is there any recourse? Can any accommodation be requested by the impaired member of the Board that would help that person participate better at meetings? Should a complaint be made? If so, how and to whom would be best? What if the rest of the Board and officers have been silent throughout this while one or two members are conducting themselves like this? Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
R.G., that is a painful question you have posed. It is simply amazing to me that anyone, Board member or other, could be so cruel and insensitive to another human being. Needless to say, this is not a condo governance issue but rather a case of bullying or harassment. I am not an attorney but I would encourage you and the Board member who is being treated so abusively by these other people to seek an attorney’s advice regarding what steps can be taken to remedy the situation. My guess is that a lawsuit and, perhaps, even an arrest could be in line for the folks who have decided to harass or otherwise abuse the person with the hearing impairment. One place to start may be the State of Connecticut’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO). This is the state organization that is charged with making sure state residents are not discriminated against. Their website is http://www.ct.gov/chro/site/default.asp.
From a condominium governance standpoint, these bullying Board members don’t sound like the kind of folks that are serving the best interest of the unit owners and should be voted out of office at the earliest convenience. If they are bullying this one individual, they may have a history of such behavior and I am sure the community can find better volunteers to fill their shoes. The Board members who witnessed this but took no action could have done something but have done nothing wrong, in my opinion. They were under no condo governance obligation to do anything and may, in fact, be victims of bullying by the offenders as well. There is likely nothing in the condo’s governing documents that deal with this issue as it is a legal issue outside the bounds of community association governance. So, too, is the obligation of the association to provide an environment for the impaired Board member to better participate. Ideally, the Board would address such an issue as it appeared. To date, it would appear they have done nothing. Again, the condo’s governance documents are very likely silent on the issue.
I hope your community can end this abuse and get this ugliness behind it. I wish you a more positive experience moving forward. All the best!