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Hunter v. Carelock

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


April 15, 2010

DEBORAH HUNTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CARL CARELOCK, INTER-CON SECURITY SYSTEMS, INC., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable John A. Mendez United States District Judge

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT Judge: The Honorable John A. Mendez Date: 9:30am on April 7, 2010 Location: Courtroom 6, 14th Floor

Plaintiff Deborah Hunter brought this action against Defendants Inter-Con Security Systems, Inc. ("Inter-Con") and Carl Carelock alleging, among other things, sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (Cal. Gov. Code § 12940 et seq.). Inter-Con asserted in its defense that Ms. Hunter was terminated because she exhausted her medical leave benefits pursuant to the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA") and the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). By motion filed on March 10, 2010, Plaintiff Deborah Hunter moved for partial summary judgment on her claims that Inter-Con interfered with her rights to medical leave by terminating her in violation of the CFRA (Cal. Govt. Code § 12945.2) (Eleventh Cause of Action) and the FMLA (29 U.S.C. § 2615) (Thirteenth Cause of Action).

Inter-Con claims that Ms. Hunter was terminated for exhausting her CFRA/FMLA leave, based on the rolling method of calculation. Pursuant to Bachelder v. America West Airlines, 259 F.3d 1112, 1129-30 (9th Cir. 2001), employers are required to give notice to their employees of its selected method used to calculate FMLA leave. In the absence of such notice by the employer, the employee is entitled to use the method of calculation that is most favorable to him or her. Bachelder, supra, 259 F.3d at 1128-29. Inter-Con claims that it gave Ms. Hunter notice of the rolling method by way of its letter to her, dated February 9, 2007. However, the February 9, 2007 letter is notably silent as to whether Ms. Hunter's leave of absence taken in 2006 would count against her eligibility for CFRA/FMLA leave in 2007, it does not calculate the amount of CFRA/FMLA days used and/or remaining, and does not include any explicit reference to her exact date of exhaustion. As such, the February 9, 2007 letter improperly kept Ms. Hunter in the dark about the method used by the employer to calculate her CFRA/FMLA leave, in violation of the employer's obligations pursuant to Bachelder.

Because Inter-Con failed to notify Ms. Hunter in the February 9, 207 letter, or by way of any other document, that it used the rolling method to calculate her CFRA/FMLA leave, Ms. Hunter is entitled, as a matter of law, to use the calendar method to calculate her leave. Under the calendar method, Ms. Hunter had not exhausted her CFRA/FMLA leave at the time of her termination. Because Inter-Con terminated Ms. Hunter for exhausting her CFRA/FMLA leave, this Court finds, as a matter of law, that her termination was improper.

Based upon the oral arguments of counsel at the hearing on April 7, 2010, the papers submitted in support of and in opposition to Plaintiff's motion, and all other pleadings and papers filed in this action, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment on her Eleventh and Thirteenth Causes of Action is GRANTED.

20100415

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