The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that a claim of retaliation against an employee for taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act requires a causal link between an employee’s use of the leave and the firing, which is broken when an independent decisionmaker conducts an investigation and decides to terminate the employee.

According to the opinion, Jeannie Parker booked flights over the phone for United Airlines and took leave under FMLA due to a vision disorder and her father’s cancer. About five months after the leave was approved, Parker’s supervisor became suspicious that she was engaging in “call avoidance.” The opinion described call avoidance as telling customers she needed to gather additional information, putting them on hold, and then chatting with co-workers while the customer waited.

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