Legal Q & A Inappropriate Disclosure?

Q: I'm a member of my building's board. At a recent board meeting, the owner of our management company told the board that I fired the plumbing company. The owner of the plumbing company then asked for my name and phone number, and the manager gave it to him. Is this legal?

—Disgruntled Director

A: Brian Griffin of law firm Griffin Alexander based in Randolph, New Jersey says: “The answer is that (a) it is possible that the management company erred in advising the plumbing contractor that one specific board member fired the plumbing contractor, and (b) whether the board member’s information should have been disclosed to the plumbing contractor depends on the authority granted to the management company.

“A board member acts on behalf of the full board when it takes action in the course of regular operation of the association, and is authorized by the board to do so. For example, hiring or firing a contractor requires the full approval of the board. Any one particular board member cannot solely hire/fire a contractor, unless the board has approved the action and allowed that same board member to communicate the board’s intent to the management company and/or the contractor.

“It is unclear from the facts provided whether the board member actually did fire the plumbing contractor, and if so, whether that action was authorized by the board. Without knowing that information, it is impossible to state the exact responsibility of the parties. The management company should have confirmed whether the action of firing the contractor was properly performed with the full authority of the board before communicating with the plumbing contractor.

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