Tomlinson v. Qualcomm, Inc., 97 Cal. App. 4th 934 (2002)

While working on a reduced schedule as part of a family leave of absence, Lona Tomlinson was selected for layoff and terminated. Tomlinson asserted that her termination violated the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), Cal. Gov’t Code § 12945.2, based on her contention that employees who are on family leave are “immune” from layoff during the course of the leave. The trial and appellate courts disagreed, holding that the operative regulation implementing the CFRA specifically contemplates the layoff of employees who are on family leave. The Court of Appeal further held that the express at-will agreement that Tomlinson had signed at the outset of her employment precluded an implied contract of continued employment. Specifically, the Court held that Qualcomm’s family leave policy did not alter the at-will status of Tomlinson’s employment and that even if it did, Qualcomm was still within its contractual rights to terminate plaintiff’s employment as part of a reduction-in-force.