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Court Upholds Firing of Detention Center Worker

(CN) - An Illinois woman did not prove that she was fired for taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act after a country auditor claimed she committed fraud and other misconduct, the 7th Circuit ruled.

Laura Simpson was the superintendent of the River Valley Juvenile Detention Center. She was fired by the chief judge's office in Will County. She requested FMLA paperwork while she was out with knee surgery, but her supervisor refused because she had not been in her superintendent position for at least a year.

"That denial was wrong," wrote Judge Tinder of the Chicago-based federal appeals court. "Though her title changed, she was still employed by the Office of the Chief Judge, as she had been for well over a year."

Still, Tinder would ultimately rule that Simpson's FMLA claim was meritless, as she was fired for her misconduct in office.

The report showed that Simpson knew that psychologist Amy Brown was double-billing the county. Also, Simpson knew that Brown delegated many of her psychological evaluations to her staff members, who exposed the county to liability by using improper techniques.

Also, the report said Simpson violated the county's policy against fraternizing with detainees, and failed to alert parents immediately of their child's suicide attempt. The auditor recommended Simpson's prompt termination.

Tinder agreed with the district court that Simpson's firing, which took place while she was away from work recovering from knee surgery, was legal.

"We find no evidence to support an inference that any of defendants ... hatched a plan to terminate Simpson for taking leave by using the auditor's investigation as cover."

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