King v. United Parcel Serv., 2007 WL 1493316 (Cal. Ct. App. 2007)

Richard King, a supervisorial employee who had worked for UPS for almost 30 years, was terminated for an “integrity violation” involving the falsification of a driver’s timecard. In his lawsuit, King alleged that UPS had terminated him because he was diagnosed with a blood disorder that necessitated his taking a medical leave of absence for four months. In affirming summary judgment for UPS on the discrimination claim, the Court of Appeal concluded that “[i]t is the employer’s honest belief in the stated reasons for firing an employee and not the objective truth or falsity of the underlying facts that is at issue in a discrimination case… we conclude plaintiff has failed to submit substantial evidence that UPS did not honestly believe plaintiff had violated its integrity policy when it fired him.” The Court further concluded there was no breach of an implied employment agreement with King because “UPS, acting in good faith following an appropriate investigation, had reasonable grounds for believing plaintiff had [encouraged a subordinate employee to falsify his timecard].” Finally, the Court affirmed dismissal of the defamation claim on the ground that UPS’s statements to other UPS employees about King’s termination were protected by the “common interest” privilege. Cf. Walton v. U.S. Marshals Serv., 2007 WL 1815504 (9th Cir. 2007) (court security officer who was terminated for inability to localize sound was not discriminated against in violation of the ADA or Rehabilitation Act).