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Watertown Firefighter Suing Town After Being Passed Over for Promotion

The 13-year member of the department claims the town passed him over because he used approved sick days to be with his wife while she underwent medical treatment.

A Watertown firefighter has sued the town of Watertown in Boston Federal Court claiming that he was passed over twice for promotion because he used he Family and Medical Leave Act while his wife underwent medical treatment, according to court papers.

Scott Carton, joined the fire department in July 1999, and in 2009 he took the civil service exam and applied for the lieutenant position. The suit claims he was passed over two times in 2011, despite having the third highest score, because of his use of the medical leave days. He filed the suit on Sept. 21, 2012, seeking a court order to require the town to promote him to lieutenant.

Watertown Patch had not received any response from town officials for comment on the suit before the article was published.

[NOTE: Town Manager Michael Driscoll released a statement on Sept. 26 about the suit. To read it click here.]

Sick Leave for Wife

Beginning in 2003 he took time off while his wife had treatment for “a prior trauma,” according to the court document, and he received oral warnings for taking sick leave that year.

In 2004, he was approved to leave under the FMLA multiple times. In 2005, according to the document, Carton began to receive written warnings for using the leave time and he was required to submit a sick leave affidavit to use any more sick leave.

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The following year, however, that requirement was lifted because he had “excellent attendance,” the papers read.

In 2008, Carton used 22 FMLA days from July to December, and in December he received another written warning and again had to start submitting affidavits to receive leave.

Seeking Promotion

When Carton applied for the lieutenant openings in 2009, the two candidates ahead of him were chosen. Then in 2011, a temporary lieutenant position opened up and he was passed over for his “history of frequent absenteeism,” according to court papers.

Town officials noted that he used 93 percent of his sick leave time, which works out to 19.3 days a year, or more than three times the department average of 5.7 days, according to the court document. These calculations included the sick leave used under FMLA.

In February 2011, Carton filed a complaint with the Civil Service Commission, and he and the town came to an agreement saying:

The Town agrees, that with respect to future promotional opportunities applied for by Firefighter Carton, it will not include absences that have been approved by the appropriate Town official(s) as Family and Medical Leave Act absences in its computation of total sick time usage as it relates to promotional opportunities.

In September 2011, another lieutenant position opened up and Carton was again passed over, “Even though he was the highest ranking candidate,” the suit claims.

The denial of the promotion references a “history of disciplinary action related to attendance issues,” according to the court document. Town officials noted the warnings issued to Carton in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

In the suit, Carton seeks an order from the court “that he be promoted to the position of Lieutenant, and award him all lost pay, benefits, damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs, as provided by law,” the court papers read.

Iris Ferro September 25, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Servant and couldn't get the job. YOU ARE AN IGNORANT MAN!!!!!! STFU
Roy DeSoto September 25, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Marc, perhaps you need to re-read the article. The time off was used PRIOR to being passed over, so retaliation is not the issue here. As for fixing the problem, he used time off to care for a family member. Where is the problem in that?
Cookie September 26, 2012 at 12:31 PM
I commend him for using his time earned. Looks like it was approved FMLA no less. Unfortunately we can't control life circumstances. Things just happen with no warnings. I feel that this is what happened to this world we live in today. No one gives a shit about the other person, family , friend , loved one. Everyone seems to bee out for themselves. Two generations ago people actually cared about the other person. One would help the other. I feel that he did nothing wrong by taking care of his loved one that was sick. After all isn't that what you should be doing for your family? Life ends when the higher power wants you. We have no say, no insight. When your gone, it's forever.
John Q September 27, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Since Watertown is a Civil Service Fire Department they would have to show just cause for not picking Carton. This document from Civil Service web site says the town is justified in not selecting Carton. http://www.mass.gov/anf/docs/csc/decisions/bypass/carton-scott-092012.pdf
Marc September 29, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Iris, it''s obvious youre defending the bastard because you're just like him and would do the same thing if you had the chance...Take your twisted knickers off... I'm sure ther'es more to this than meets the eye; and if you know so much then back up your position with facts not insults. If he's in the right he will prevail in court, if he isn't, he won't. For the record. I've never wanted to be a publick servant, most of the ones I have met are crooked liars and "I KNOW THAT FIRST HAND"... Now go back to your trailor and use all that suppressed anger to do some good with it. And if you don't like my opinons, you can go "SIT ON IT"

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