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AWOL employee loses case involving absenteeism

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in Employment Law,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Rosa Luera worked as a medical records clerk and file technician at The Heart Center Medical Group in Fort Wayne. She also did some Spanish translation work for several departments.

In 2005, Luera’s supervisor, Alice Uhrick, counseled her for excessive absences.

In January 2006, Luera complained to Uhrick that co-workers were criticizing her for taking time off. Uhrick, demonstrating what the court termed “an abundance of caution,” called a meeting with Luera’s co-workers and made it clear to everyone that Luera did not need approval for time off from anyone other than Uhrick.

After that meeting, Luera sent Uhrick an e-mail saying she would no longer do translation work. Over the next few months, despite repeated warnings and progressive discipline, Luera’s attendance continued to decline—until one day, she simply stopped showing up for work. In June 2006, Uhrick terminated her.

Luera sued, claiming discrimination and retaliation. Her claim failed for two reasons. First, she did not suffer an adverse employment action because she abandoned her job. Second, The Heart Center had a legitimate, well-documented reason for her termination, clearly spelled out in its attendance policy.

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