How to handle a building manager?
September 30, 2007 2:09 PM   Subscribe

How does my acquaintance who supplements her low income by cleaning seniors' apartments handle a building manager?

She is fastidiously clean. She had an outbreak of bedbugs in her own apartment, which has been resolved.While cleaning an apartment in one particular building, she discovered bedbugs there, and advised the client what to do, casually mentioning that it had happened to her.

After that, the administrator accused her of bringing the bedbugs into the building. At first she tried to explain to him that other apartments in that building had infestations and that this was the likely vector. Since then, the administrator has been badmouthing her to her clients in the building. Three have terminated her service. Now the manager told her that if she enters the building again, he will call the police.

She is also concerned that he will damage her reputation in other buildings where she has clients (she is in a small city). In addition, she views this as an assault on her dignity. Your opinions would be appreciated
posted by Neiltupper to Human Relations (9 answers total)
Serving the guy in small claims court for libel leading to lost income would not only shut him up but make your friend whole. All she'd have to do is prove he called her a bedbug-spreader and that she lost clients. I'm not a lawyer, but I think it's clear that he'd be stuck proving that his statements were correct.

Anyway, this can be done without a lawyer for a pretty small filing fee. You and/or sympathetic clients could be instrumental helping your friend put together her case.

Good luck to her!
posted by gum at 2:29 PM on September 30, 2007

Can he even stop her from entering the building? If a resident is specifically requesting that she service their apartment, can they do anything about that?

I think if she can find a resident or three who are willing to testify in small claims of the false claims he's spreading she'd be good to go.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:48 PM on September 30, 2007

If she sues through BC small claims, she can fill out the application where she declares that she is quite poor. They'll waive the small claims fee.
posted by acoutu at 3:25 PM on September 30, 2007

Gum's advice sounds excellent. I'm not familiar with the Canadian judicial system, but I'm assuming it's quite similar to mine here in the US. (No offense?) And, of course, IANAL, but...

At least here, truth is an affirmative defense in slander suits. I'd wager that the burden of proof falls to him, but you can only help your case if you can prove in court that your friend wasn't the source of bedbugs.

See if an ex-client will agree to come and testify that she canceled your friend's services after the landlord accused her.

The only downside is that she's still going to have to face the building manager afterward... I still think it's the best thing to do, I just want to make sure she doesn't end up in an absolutely terrible situation. It's definitely worth looking into whether looking whether she can be banned from the building if a tenant wants her there. Something tells me it'll become even more important after the court case.

Good luck to your friend! If there was ever a time when I appreciated the court system, this would be it.
posted by fogster at 3:59 PM on September 30, 2007

References to "the landlord" or just "him" refer to the building manager... I just re-read my post and realized how terrible the pronoun situation was.
posted by fogster at 4:01 PM on September 30, 2007

Does she have to sue? Wouldn't a letter from a lawyer work just as well spelling out the libel issue? I've heard that most people take a letter from a lawyer very seriously. You could probably have this done through a legal clinic.
posted by cda at 4:08 PM on September 30, 2007

It's legal to tape phone conversations in Canada, if you are a party to the conversation. See what you can get them to say on the phone. IANAL.
posted by acoutu at 6:02 PM on September 30, 2007

Actually, I'm pretty sure that burden of proof is on the plaintiff in libel suits in most states in the USA and I believe Canada as well, not the defendant. Plaintiff must prove that defendant knew that the statements made were false.

In the UK, by contrast, burden of proof is on the defendant to show that the statements were truthful or at least not maliciously false.

Of course, in the USA she would be legally allowed to hold up a sign outside the building claiming that the landlord was a slum-lord running a compound full of bed-bugs, so the USA has a kind of balance.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 7:33 PM on September 30, 2007

The test is whether it is reasonable to think that the statement is true.
posted by acoutu at 9:29 PM on September 30, 2007

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