Most of the time, an employer needs only to honestly believe the reason given for a termination. However, that’s not true in cases involving theor California .
Recent case: Avery sold cars for AutoNation and also ran his own restaurant on the side. He hurt his back and was approved for medical leave after his doctor certified he could only perform light duty. Then a supervisor claimed that Avery was working at his restaurant. After a brief investigation, Avery was fired for abusing his leave.
He sued, alleging that he hadn’t been doing anything except light-duty work. AutoNation argued that at the very least, it had honestly believed Avery was abusing leave.
The court said that belief wasn’t enough. It would have to prove that Avery really was abusing leave. (Richey v. AutoNation, No. B235711, Court of Appeal of California, 2nd Appellate District, 2012)
- Know the difference between whistle-blowing and an employee looking for an excuse to sue
- Want severance agreement to stick? Call a lawyer
- Before you decide to fire, make sure past job evaluations support your rationale
- Check the fine print on legal-liability insurance
- Document and retain evidence that led to firing