Sharif v. United Airlines, Inc., No. 15-1747 (4th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against United Airlines for retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. The district court granted summary judgment for United Airlines. United Airlines had discharged plaintiff for fraudulently taking FMLA leave and for making dishonest representations during the ensuing investigation. The court concluded that, even drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of plaintiff as the nonmoving party, Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., plaintiff has failed to create an issue of triable fact that the explanation United Airlines provided for his discharge was a pretext for retaliation for taking FMLA leave. In this case, the evidence taken as a whole plainly paints the picture of an employee who used FMLA leave to avoid interrupting his vacation, and then gave a variety of inconsistent explanations for his behavior upon his return. The court explained that to hold otherwise would disable companies from attaching any sanction or consequence to the fraudulent abuse of a statute designed to enable workers to take leave for legitimate family needs and medical reasons. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.