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KM&M Client Wins Summary Judgment, Dismissing California Family Leave Claims

November 21, 2002

The United States District Court for the Central District of California (sitting in Los Angeles) recently granted summary judgment in favor of a major entertainment company represented by KM&M in a lawsuit brought by a former employee. The Plaintiff alleged wrongful termination and a violation of the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA"), which (like the Family and Medical Leave Act) provides for up to 12 work weeks of leave in conjunction with the birth of a child. We removed the case to federal court from the Los Angeles County Superior Court. After taking the Plaintiff's deposition, we filed a summary judgment motion, arguing that the Company had a legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for its decision to terminate Plaintiff's employment, and (airing a theory supported by little precedent under California law) that the CFRA did not "immunize" the Plaintiff from adverse job action merely because she was on leave. In granting the Company's motion, the Court rejected the Plaintiff's claim that she was immune from termination under the CFRA; rather, the Plaintiff had no greater rights than any other employee, regardless of leave status. Accordingly, because the Company was able to articulate business related reasons for the termination, the Plaintiff's lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice.