Employer Did Not Violate CFRA by Transferring Employee upon Her Return from 19-Week Stress Leave

Rogers v. County of Los Angeles, 2011 WL 3570494 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011)

After 19 weeks of medical leave, Katrina L. Rogers returned to her job as the personnel officer in the executive office responsible for rendering administrative and other support services to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. During her LOA, Rogers' doctor told her that she could not perform her duties because "she could not think clearly and had headaches." Rogers' stress allegedly resulted from "an attack on [her] integrity." When Rogers returned to work, she learned that she had been transferred to the Internal Services Department, which Rogers considered to be a "demotion" and a "slap in the face." That same day, Rogers left the office early, called in sick for the rest of the week and then submitted notice of her retirement. Rogers then filed a lawsuit for violation of her rights under the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA"), which went to trial. The jury awarded Rogers $356,000 in damages for lost earnings and emotional distress. The Court of Appeal reversed the judgment, holding that Rogers was not entitled to reinstatement because she had failed to return to work at the end of the 12-week CFRA-protected leave period. The court further held there was insufficient evidence of retaliation against Rogers for having exercised her rights under CFRA because Rogers failed to establish the requisite causal connection between her protected actions in taking CFRA medical leave and the decision to transfer her to another position. See also Walls v. Central Contra Costa Transit Authority, 2011 WL 3319442 (9th Cir. 2011) (discharged employee could not assert FMLA claim because he had not yet been reinstated as of the time he requested the leave).