A recent ruling reinforces that “how” an employer does what it does often is as important as what it does. The case appeared relatively straightforward. An employee missed a work shift and claimed intermittent FMLA leave. One manager, who had been skeptical about some past intermittent leave use, saw the employee at a birthday party on the same day of the missed work shift. The employer investigated. There was evidence that the employee was at the party at the same time as some of the hours of her missed work shift. The employee claimed she attended the party only after her shift would have ended, and that she was feeling better after resting for most of the day.
The employer terminated the employee, explaining it had an honestly-held belief that the employee had been at the party during her shift and was lying about it. Rather than grant summary judgment to the employer, the Court ruled a jury trial was necessary. Why?
Here are the reasons the Court did not defer to the employer’s claimed honestly-held belief under the “honest belief” rule:
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