Many of the articles in my column have addressed a situations of harassment. In responding to these concerns, I usually cite Nevada Revised Statute 116.31184, which pertains to threats, harassment and other conduct. In addition, there have been management companies who have terminated their management contracts with their associations because of this issue of harassment and bullying.
So what constitutes bullying in the first place? NRS 388.122, which is a mainstream law that does not specifically address HOA issues, provides some detailed explanations:
Bullying means written, verbal or electronic expressions or physical acts or gestures, or any combination, that is directed at a person or group of people, or a single severe and willful act or expression that is directed at a person or group of people.
Let’s stop right here. Who are we speaking about? The list includes everyone: staff that manages your association, volunteer board members, vendors and you, as an owner.
The law continues with its definition of bullying that has the effect of physically harming a person or damaging the property of a person or who places a person in reasonable fear of physical harm or property damage.
As you can see, you don’t need to physically harm the person to be accused of bullying. A phone call to a community manager that becomes more aggressive by the homeowner who ends his or her call in a loud voice: “I’m coming down there.” What does that mean? Possible violence. Does the manager alert their supervisor and security? Often that is the case.
The law defines acts or conduct that are based upon the actual, or perceived, race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability of a person, sex or any other distinguishing characteristic or background of a person. Or association of a person having one or more of those actual or perceived characteristics.
As we have seen in the past, bullying often leads to discrimination of one of these protected classes. I have been aware of a few recent incidents in communities that fall in this category. If communities don’t handle things in the right way, they can be sued.
What I like about this law (NRS 388.122 (2) is the detailed definition of the term, bullying, as follows: A repeated or pervasive taunting, name-calling, belittling, mocking or use of put-downs or demeaning humor regarding the actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability of a person, sex or any other distinguishing characteristic or background of a person.
The next section of the law, I call the “rumor mill.” The law states that bullying is the behavior that is intended to harm a person by damaging or manipulating his or her relationships with others by conduct that includes, without limitation, spreading false rumors.
Section 2c of the law, defined bullying as where one’s conduct consist of repeated or pervasive nonverbal threats or intimidation, such as the use of aggressive, menacing or disrespectful gestures.
Many years ago, there was a formal complaint with the Nevada Real Estate Division of a director displaying his middle finger at an owner whenever that person was nearby.
This law ends with the following actions that constitute bullying:
Threats of harm to a person, to his or her possessions or other person, whether such threats are transmitted verbally, electronically or in writing.
Blackmail, extortion of demands for protection money or involuntary loans or donations. Blocking access to any property or facility or school. Stalking and, finally, physical harmful contact with or injury to another person or his or her property.
Why spend the time writing this article? Because
I am hearing and receiving more incidents from my readers of bullying complaints. We can’t blame the toxic environment that exists in the political world or the pandemic. There is no excuse! If such a situation exists within your community, maybe it’s time for a workshop or an educational seminar to discuss how we need to communicate with each other. There are seminars available by various attorneys.
Community managers and management companies may need to take the lead. If a manager sees a HOA meeting is deteriorating, he or she may need to step in and have the meeting recessed to allow for cooler heads to prevail, or even have the meeting adjourn.
The consequence can be costly, in so many ways. It’s time for us to conduct ourselves as professionals and set the example of proper protocol to our children.
Barbara Holland is an author and educator on real estate management. Questions may be sent to [email protected].