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Suspect leave abuse? Be certain before you act

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in Firing,Human Resources

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 the FMLA or California family leave.

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)

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