Escriba v. Foster Poultry Farms (Ninth Circuit)
Foster Farms terminated Maria Escriba after she failed to return to work for three consecutive days after the conclusion of a vacation. Although she took the vacation to see her sick father, she expressly declined to designate the vacation as FMLA-protected leave, opting instead to preserve her leave for later use. The important legal questions presented in this case were whether an employee may decline to have a leave of absence designated as an FMLA-protected leave, even when she is taking leave for an FMLA-qualifying reason; and whether a plaintiff states a claim under the FMLA when she is terminated for failing to return to work at the end of her leave, and not for merely taking the leave. After defending Foster Farms successfully at trial, we defended the verdict on appeal, persuading the court to uphold the jury’s decision in Foster Farms’ favor.