Moreau v. Air France, 356 F.3d 942 (9th Cir. 2003)

Stephane Moreau worked as the Assistant Station Manager for Air France at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Moreau requested a 12-week leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act to assist his ill father in France. Air France denied Moreau’s request on the ground that it employed fewer than 50 employees within 75 miles of SFO and thus was exempt from the statutes. Moreau took the leave anyway and was terminated. Moreau alleged violations of the statutes and breach of contract and of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Air France, holding that the airline was not the joint employer of the employees of the ground handling service companies with which it worked because it lacked authority to control those workers. The Court further held that there was no public policy violation (since there was no statutory basis for the claim) and no breach of contract since there was good cause to terminate Moreau (even if he was not terminable at will) given his insubordination and failure to return to work.