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Pulling the Plug on Moonlighting Staff

Morningside Heights

Moonlighting Staff
Nov. 2, 2016

A shareholder in a Morningside Heights co-op has cried foul. The co-op’s board recently did away with a long-standing policy that allowed the building’s staff to perform odd jobs in residents’ apartments in their spare time. Citing concerns about liability and misuse of co-op time, the board changed the house rules to disallow this common practice. Which raises a question: Can a co-op board dictate what employees do with their private time – and who shareholders can hire to do odd jobs?

Yes, a co-op board is within its rights to bar such a practice, attorney Andrew Wagner of the firm Anderson Kill tells the New York Times. If the employee is injured or damages the apartment while performing a handyman job, the co-op could be liable, Wagner says.

“It’s sometimes difficult for staff members to say no to shareholders,” adds attorney Lisa Smith, a partner at Smith, Gambrell & Russell. If a staffer turns down an offered job, the shareholder might retaliate by withholding the traditional holiday tip. To prevent such sticky situations, Smith advises, management could refer residents to licensed and insured handymen who are familiar with the building.

Or disgruntled shareholders could vote out the board at the next election.

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