What is my recourse if my supervisor has shared confidential informaton about me from my personnel file with other employees?

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What is my recourse if my supervisor has shared confidential informaton about me from my personnel file with other employees?

I am a teacher and 12 years ago I had another teacher accuse me of creating a hostile work environment. I was found to have not created a hostile work environment but another male teacher was found to have been guilty of doing so and had to attend a training. Now, one of the teachers that I worked with back then is now my principal. I have found out that she has told other staff members of the incident and even said that I was found guilty of creating a hostile work environment. She has gone as far as attributing things the other man did to me. I have all of my documentation from the case and in the documentation it says that the woman who is now my principal did not find my behavior to be offensive. In my opinion she is trying to discredit me and paint a picture of me with my current staff that is untrue. One of the people she has said these thing to has told me that she will be happy to report what the principal is doing and saying and she is willing to put it in writing. Do I have a case?

Asked on August 2, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If she is recounting things she knows from her personal knowledge or experience at the time (i.e things she knows personally, not from your file), it is not "confidential" unless there was a confidentiality agreement contractually requiring that it be kept confidential. 
However, is she is telling factual untruths ("lies"), such as that you were found guilty when in fact you were not, or that you did things which you did not (but which were done by another person), that may well be defamation: defamation is the making of untrue factual statements about you which damage your reputation. The amout of compenation you may be entitled to generally varies with the harm you suffer: if this blows over relatively quickly with little or no consequences to you, there is probably no reason to pursue legal action; but if this continues for a long time or harms you at work (you miss a promotion; you get demoted or get less-desirable assigments; you are terminated; you are harassed so much you are effectively forced out; etc.) you may have a viable lawsuit. In that case, you should contact a personal injury attorey to explore a lawsuit.


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