February 28, 2022

Heated Words or Unlawful Harassment?

A petitioner for a protective order must show they have been a victim of unlawful harassment. “Unlawful harassment” is defined by RCW 10.14.020 to mean “a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, and which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. The course of conduct shall be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and shall actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner.” In a recent unpublished opinion, the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed that one party’s accusation that the other party was a prostitute was defamatory and constituted harassment. Association boards should consider the above harassment standard when deciding whether an owner's conduct warrants a warning letter or a fine.