Escriba v. Foster Poultry Farms, No. 11-17608 (9th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against Foster Farms under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601, and California law. The parties disputed whether plaintiff sought FMLA leave in order to care for her ailing father in another country. The court concluded that an employee can affirmatively decline to use FMLA leave, even if the underlying reasons for seeking the leave would have invoked FMLA protection. The court concluded that the district court did not err in denying plaintiff's motion for judgment as a matter of law where, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, there was substantial evidence that plaintiff elected not to take FMLA leave. The jury had ample evidence to render a verdict against plaintiff due to her noncompliance with Foster Farms's "three day no-show, no-call rule." Because the district court issued a limiting instruction regarding plaintiff's prior FMLA leave, any error in admitting the evidence was harmless. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to award costs of suit to Foster Poultry. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.