New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




You're Not the Police. So Here's What to Do When a Staffer's Accused of Crime

New York City

When a Staffer Is Accused of Crime
May 2, 2014

Three Things

First, remember that anyone is innocent until proven guilty. A lot of people can't easily do that. Even if there's no basis for the accusation, the parents of the child or the owner of the "robbed" apartment won't accept that the accused may not be guilty. It's a sensitive situation and requires a board member to have a great deal of patience and empathy.

The next thing to remember is that the board and the management company are not the police. Don't interfere with the official investigation of a crime. If you believe a crime has been committed, the first thing to do is to contact the police. The longer you delay, the greater the likelihood that memories will change or that evidence will disappear or become spoiled.

The final thing to remember, if you're in a union building, is that you're bound by the agreement between Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union and the  Realty Advisory Board for Labor Relations (RAB). So if you believe that an employee has acted improperly, the second call (after the police, if it is for a crime) should be to the RAB to determine the correct course of action.

Among the steps you shouldn't take? Forcing the employee to undergo a lie detector test. First of, what, are you in a spy movie? And secondly, Rule Number 37 of the RAB agreement with the 32BJ states: "The employer shall not require, request, or suggest that an employee take a polygraph or any other form of lie detector test."

So: Don't jump to conclusions, let the cops do their job and if you're a union building, call the RAB. Has any board out there been through this? Comment below to let others learn from your experience — you might help an innocent person not get vilified.


Adapted from "Expulsion and Guilt" by Stuart Saft (Habitat, May 2014). Saft is chair of Holland & Knight's New York Real Estate Practice Group and chairman of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums.

For more, see our Site Map or join our Archive >>

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?