United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Employment — FMLA
Where an employer had an honest suspicion that an employee was not using his FMLA leave for its intended purpose, it did not violate the FMLA to terminate him.
“Here, Carrier suspected Scruggs was misusing his FMLA leave based upon his prior absenteeism. Accordingly, Carrier hired a private investigator to observe Scruggs on a day that he requested FMLA leave to care for his mother. The video surveillance revealed that Scruggs did not appear to leave his house that day. When Carrier questioned Scruggs, he could not recall what he did on that day, but stated that he did not misuse his FMLA leave. Although Scruggs later provided documentation from his mother’s nursing home and doctor’s office, this paperwork only raised further questions for Carrier. The documents Scruggs produced were facially inconsistent and conflicted with Carrier’s internal paperwork. Taken together, this was enough for Carrier to have an ‘honest suspicion’ that Scruggs misused his FMLA leave on July 24, 2007. Although Carrier could have conducted a more thorough investigation, as Scruggs fervently argues, it was not required to do so. See Kariotis, 131 F.3d at 681. Accordingly, Carrier did not violate Scruggs’s FMLA rights because it honestly believed Scruggs was not using his leave for its intended purpose, see Vail, 533 F.3d at 909, and the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Carrier on Scruggs’s interference claim.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Barker, J., Kanne, J.