Believe employee lied? That’s grounds for firing

You have the right to expect honesty from your employees. You can fire if you reasonably believe an employee lied about an absence, knowing that you are on safe legal ground if the employee sues.

Recent case: Walgreens employee Aaron began missing work after his marriage broke up. Anxious and depressed, he applied for intermittent FMLA leave, which was approved.

When Aaron was absent one day, he sent an email explaining that he took his dog to the veterinarian and was told to “keep an eye on her.” He requested permission to make up the time later so he wouldn’t lose pay. His supervisor refused and said he wanted proof that the absence had indeed been to make a vet visit.

Aaron explained that, because he couldn’t afford the vet’s fee, he had merely stopped by the office and asked an assistant what to do about his sick dog. Walgreens called the vet to verify Aaron’s account, but the vet had no record of either a visit or a drop-in conversation. Aaron was fired for dishonesty. He sued, alleging he had really been fired for using FMLA leave.

The court dismissed the case. Because Walgreens reasonably believed Aaron was dishonest about the vet visit, the termination was legal. (Eason v. Walgreen, No. 13-3184, DC MN, 2015)