Lares v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation AuthorityAnnotate this Case
MTA's failure to count the days an employee is on California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave when calculating the 60-day clearance period does not violate the CFRA. Plaintiff, a bus operator for MTA, was terminated from his employment after he had eight non-excluded absences. This appeal concerns the discipline provision in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MTA and the union representing all operations employees of MTA. Under a section of that provision (the absenteeism rule), an employee is subject to progressive discipline, up to and including termination, if he or she has a certain number of absences. To avoid discipline, the employee may remove (or clear) an absence from his or her count by not having any absences for 60 consecutive calendar days. However, certain kinds of absences are expressly excluded from the absenteeism rule, such as an absence covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the CFRA.
The Court of Appeal held that where, as here, an employer's no-fault absenteeism policy provides that an employee may clear absences that otherwise would count for purposes of disciplinary action by working (or being available to work) during a certain clearance period, the employer does not violate the CFRA by extending the absence clearance period by the number of days the employee was on CFRA leave during that period. The court also held that plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact that MTA treats other kinds of unpaid leave differently than CFRA leave. Therefore, the court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for MTA on plaintiff's claims for retaliation based on his use of CFRA leave, failure to prevent retaliation, and interference with CFRA leave.