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California Supreme Court Grants Review of CFRA/FMLA Case Richey v. Autonation, Inc.

Posted in FMLA and Other Leaves of Absence, Labor Law

By:   Chelcey E. Lieber

The California Supreme Court recently granted review of Richey v. Autonation, Inc., a Court of Appeal case that vacated an arbitration award in favor of the employer. The Court rejected the employer’s argument that it had an “honest belief” that an employee was misusing his CFRA/FMLA leave, and this honest belief justified the employee’s discharge. We previously discussed the Richey case here https://www.thelelawblog.com/2012/11/articles/labor-law/the-continuing-danger-of-terminating-employees-on-leave-an-honest-belief-that-leave-is-being-misused-is-not-always-enough-richey-v-autonation-inc/ on our blog.

In short, the Richey case presents the following two issues for the Supreme Court:

(1)    Is an employer’s honest belief that an employee was violating company policy or abusing medical leave a complete defense to the employee’s claim that the employer violated the Moore-Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act (Gov. Code, §§ 12945.1, 12945.2)?

(2)     Was the decision below to vacate the arbitration award in the employer’s favor consistent with the limited judicial review of arbitration awards?

Once the Supreme Court grants review, the lower court’s opinion is no longer precedent and cannot be cited in briefs or relied upon, unless the Supreme Court says otherwise. The Supreme Court also has a number of other significant employment law cases, and a full list of the Supreme Court’s docket can be found here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/feb2213civpend.pdf.