Bareno v. San Diego Community College Dist. January 13, 2017

Bareno v. San Diego Community College Dist. (CA4/1 D069381 1/13/17) is a recent positive decision for employees relating to the California Family Rights Act. The Court allowed a case to proceed forward to trial even though San Diego Community College District claims that Ms. Bareno “voluntary resigned” following claims that she failed to timely submit medical certification extending a leave of absence. The court found triable issues of fact and overturned a prior ruling granting summary judgment on the case. Below are details of the decision:

Plaintiff Leticia Bareno appeals from a judgment entered in favor of defendants San Diego Miramar College (the College), San Diego Community College District, and San Diego Community College District Administrative Facilities Corporation.

In early 2013, Bareno was disciplined by her employer, the College, in relation to her employment as an administrative assistant. Thereafter, Bareno required medical treatment and accompanying leave from work, and she requested medical leave from her supervisor. Bareno provided medical certification for this request for leave. After the time frame specified in Bareno’s initial request for leave had ended, Bareno continued to be absent from work. Bareno had attempted to e-mail her supervisor a recertification of her need for additional medical leave, but the College claimed that Bareno’s supervisor did not receive any such request from Bareno for additional leave. As a result, after Bareno continued to be absent from work for an additional five consecutive days, the College took the position that she had “voluntarily resigned.” After Bareno learned that the College considered her to have voluntarily resigned as a result of her continued absence from work, Bareno attempted to provide the College with information regarding the medical necessity of the leave that she had taken. The College refused to reconsider its position.

Bareno filed suit against all three defendants, alleging that in effectively terminating her employment, SDCCD retaliated against her for taking medical leave, in violation of Government Code section 12945.2, the Moore-Brown-Roberti Family Rights Act, commonly referred to as the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). (See Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 11087, subd. (b).) SDCCD moved for summary judgment on Bareno’s sole claim for retaliation under CFRA, and the trial court granted the motion.

On appeal, Bareno contends that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on her CFRA retaliation claim because there remain triable issues of material fact in dispute. The Court agreed. Because there remained material issues in dispute and the record is capable of supporting a judgment in favor of Bareno, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of SDCCD. The Court reverse the judgment and remand the matter for further proceedings.

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