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Federal appeals court sides with Texas employer in FMLA dispute

After a lower court ruled in favor of a steel company, a federal appeals court affirmed the decision that the employer had not broken the law when terminating a salesman's job. The employee had alleged that the company fired him because he took time off under the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

During the salesman's leave, a supervisor accessed his company email account. An email that the man sent to a customer stated that the company was expediting an order, but the supervisor confirmed that the salesman had not even put the order into the company's system. The salesman then lied to the supervisor when asked about the order. After confronting the man with the email evidence, the company decided to terminate his employment for the lie and other documented customer complaints he received.

Courts have consistently found in cases of this nature that FMLA does not protect people from their misconduct while on leave. The fact that evidence might be uncovered by other employees while doing the job of someone on leave does not qualify as interference with or retaliation against the use of family leave.

When an employer is accused of wrongful termination, an attorney could evaluate the case and provide insights about how a company should respond. A lawyer could research strategies to defend the employer from employment litigation. This effort could include reviewing company policies and documentation about an employee's misconduct. After assembling evidence that the company followed employment laws, an attorney could ask a court to dismiss the case. If a case proceeds, a lawyer could communicate the employer's position in court and explain the legality of its actions. Legal representation could result in an employer avoiding or reducing liability costs in the face of employee accusations.

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