Can I negotiate a severance package if I am being forced to report to a manager who made slanderous statements about me during my leave of absence?

While I was on my leave of absence for a medical disability, my manager told my colleagues she was "suspicious" of my leave of absence since I seemed fine to her and that she felt it was due to stress. A colleageu and she had a conversation where it was stated that I am taking advantage of my company's leave of absence policy even though I have provided medical certification from my medical provider. I requested not to report to this manager due to the damage that was caused by her unfalse statements but now I am being forced to continue reporting into her when I get back from my leave. I feel pressured to quit since I do not think it would be reasonable for me to continue reporting to her after this incident and it would be difficult for me to continue working with her. Can I negotiate a statement from my manager guaranteeing that she will not make any more statements regarding this situation to protect my integrity as a professional? I plan on quitting because of this situation but can I negotiate a severance so I can keep my unemployment benefits? What are my options? Are they in violation of FMLA or do her statements fall under defamation in the workplace? What s my company’s responsibility in this situation? Have my rights as an employee been violated in this situation?

3 answers  |  asked Aug 5, 2009 4:19 PM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (3)

Karl Gerber
Here are some general comments about severance I would like the public to know because there are major mis-conceptions.

I can say this, in California there is no legal right to severance unless you have a contract stating so.

It is my experience that it is fairly difficult to negotiate severance if the employer does not offer it first. Only if there is a great potential case are employers likely to couch a settlement as severance, or engage in an active severance negotiation. If there is a great case you may do better by suing so negotiating severance may be a poor decision for the employee. Until the court system is utilized almost all employers do not consider the employee or their lawyer to be serious about taking legal action.

In today's marketplace with lots of layoffs, I am not sure the corporate mood is to respond to requests for severance, or to negotiate what has been offered.

posted by Karl Gerber  |  Aug 5, 2009 9:47 PM [EST]
Janet M. Koehn
I agree with George. If you want to have someone help you negotiate a severance, be prepared to pay that attorney for her time. Your situation requires an individualized analysis of the facts of your employment, your company's policies, and any possible violations of law. (I see a potential issue of violation of your medical privacy, but without spending a good deal of time, I would never hazard an opinion.)

The CELA website will point you to a number of attorneys in the Bay area, and it lists those attorneys' specialties.

posted by Janet M. Koehn  |  Aug 5, 2009 4:35 PM [EST]
George Allen
You have a whole basket of issues there. Too much, and too complicated, to attempt to answer here. I suggest that you sit down with an experienced employment attorney. One source of locating such an attorney is the website of the California Employment Lawyers Association, at

Good luck to you.

posted by George Allen  |  Aug 5, 2009 4:25 PM [EST]

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