What can I do if I am refused employment on the basis of being absent from my prior job while on Family Medical Leave?

My former principal is telling prospective principals that I have “excessive absences” with no explanation whatsoever leading them to pass me over for the job. In the last instance I had a chance to explain the situation to the principal and he still said based on my former employer’s reference to “excessive absences” he would not recommend me to the district for the job. Do I have a legal leg to stand on?

Asked on August 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you were validly out on Family and Medical Leave Act leave--

* Your employer had at least 50 employees within 75 miles

* You had worked there at least 12 months

* You had worked 1,250 hours in the last 12 months

* Your medical condition would qualify for FMLA leave

* You properly provided notice of FMLA leave

--then to say you had "excessive absences" while out on said leave is defamation, since it is an untrue factual statement, which damages your reputation, made to third parties. It may also be illegal retaliation aginst someone for using FMLA leave. Therefore, if you were validly on leave at the time you were absence, you may have grounds to sue your former principal for defamation and/or FMLA retaliation, and should speak with an employment law attorney to explore your options.


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