Q&A: Improper Advances

Q. I was looking for information on the appropriateness of a board member having a sexual relationship with the condo’s maintenance worker.  I tried to bring it up at the last board meeting and was shot down by everyone else, saying that I am out of line — yet at same meeting everyone but me voted on a 5% raise for the maintenance guys. Can you offer some advice on how to handle this situation?

                   —Too Close for Comfort

A. “You have inquired about the propriety of a board member having a sexual relationship with a maintenance worker at the condominium.  Depending on a number of factors within your circumstances, the board member and maintenance worker may either have an employer/employee relationship or a principal/agent relationship,” says Gary A. Daddario, a partner with the law firm of Winer & Bennett in Tyngsboro, MA. “Either way, the board has supervisory control over the work and personnel of the maintenance team and, as such, a sexual relationship between the two creates various forms of potential liability.  

“For this reason, it is in the association’s best interest that such relationships not exist. Whether or not these individuals are presently violating any rules/policies of the association depends on the association’s own documents.  In addition, even if the relationship were condoned on some level and the association implemented procedures to avoid the board member in question from acting as supervisor to the subject worker, the relationship would still create an apparent conflict of interest for the board member.  As a result, even in circumstances in which the relationship is allowed, this board member should be recused from voting on issues involving the maintenance staff.”     

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