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Workplace harassment

YCC No 163 v Robinson


YCC No 163 v Robinson
Superior Court of Justice—Ontario
Court File No:  CV-16-565154
Before:      Justice E.M. Morgan
Heard:       13 April  2017

This judgment has several items of importance for all condo owners.

Abusive behaviour
An owner, who is an ex-director of her condo corporation, had been visiting the management office and sending numerous e-mails to management and the president of the board, pointing out repairs that were required. Her complaints and issues were legitimate.

So far so good.

914-920 Yonge Street
However, the judge ruled that she peppered her helpful suggestions and reports with insults and personal abuse, especially towards the property manager.

Workplace harassment
It is recognized that workers, including those in condos, have the right to work a respectful and harassment-free workplace. What was considered normal conversation just a few years ago, including "shop-talk" may not be deemed harmless today.

So owners need to take care to keep their conversations and e-mails civil as any and all statements that could be considered hurtful or abusive may be used against them.

If an owner speaks poorly of a director, a manager, a superintendent or a cleaner to another person, more likely than not, those statements will get back to the person being talked about. Just because someone shares your opinion of the manager's or board's performance, does not automatically make them allies. Worse case: you can expect at least some of those statements to appear in court affidavits. With one confidant, that's what happened here.

Stale incidents
When one party is trying to paint the other in as poor of a light as possible, all kinds of incidents and accusations, some years old, may be included in the affidavits in attempt to discredit their target.

"The Respondent shall cease and desist from uncivil or illegal conduct that violates the Condominium Act or Rules of the Applicant. The Respondent shall also refrain from verbally or in writing abusing, harassing, threatening, or intimidating any employee or representative of the Applicant, and shall comply with section 117 of the Condominium Act by ceasing to conduct herself in a way that is likely to cause injury to an employee or representative of the Applicant."

Courts are expensive

The board can take an owner to court as the legal costs are spread out among all the owners. For the directors it is practically free. However, legal fees are very expensive for a single owner. A board may use legal costs as a way of settling scores with an owner they do not like or as a way of encouraging them to sell and move out.

Interesting costs award
The condo wanted over $20,000 on a partial indemnity basis, while the owner, if she won, wanted $13,500. The judge ruled:
"Costs are discretionary. Of particular relevance is the direction that costs conform with “the amount of costs than an unsuccessful party could reasonably expect to pay in relation to the step in the proceeding for which costs are being fixed. The Respondent shall pay the Applicant costs in the amount of $15,000, all inclusive."

Note that the judge did not state when the costs had to be paid.

Reaction on the law firm blogs

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all
Sutherland Kelly LLP
Hopefully, this case will serve as a warning to other owners who frequently harass other members of the condominium community.

A two-way street
I would add that what seems good for the goose is also good for the gander. There are condo managers, directors, security staff, cleaners and superintendents who are abusive to certain owners.