A.D. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
My Condo board has an alternate board member who, after our annual meeting, sent out an email to all board members. One of this alternate board member’s concerns was regarding something she thought she saw another board member do. Her accusations were slanderous, and considered defamation of character. As this is an alternate board member, what can our board do to correct this alternate’s bad behavior? Can we sanction and what can you suggest?
Mister Condo replies:
A.D., most association by-laws have clear rules about what actions trigger sanctions or removal from the Board. Regardless of the status as an alternate Board member, if your by-laws allow and your Board is willing to take action against the individual, they can be removed from the Board via the due process of the Board voting to do so. Further, if the unit owners are so inclined and the by-laws allow it, they can organize a recall election to have the alternate Board member removed from office. Neither of these options is simple and both require conviction and action by the folks involved. The Alternate Board Member does not have to go quietly either and you may have a fight on your hands.
Terms like “slanderous” and “defamation of character” are subjective and usually reserved for legal matters where one party brings suit against another party for the assault. The courts hold a different view of what “slander” and “defamation of character” are. If the party that was slandered or defamed wishes to pursue a legal remedy they are free to do so but that is not an issue of community governance. That is a personal lawsuit between the two parties involved.
In an ideal setting, the alternate Board Member would simply be asked by the President or other Board leader to apologize for the remarks and step down form the position as alternate. In exchange for doing so, the Board can get on with the business of the association and not have to deal with such trivial issues. All the best!