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Jamaleddin v. Oakland Physicians Medical Center, L.L.C.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 12, 2015



MATTHEW F. LEITMAN, District Judge.

In February 2011, Defendant Oakland Physicians Medical Center, L.L.C., ("Oakland") hired Plaintiff Dr. Ameen Jamaleddin ("Jamaleddin") as a first-year medical resident. Jamaleddin's direct supervisor was Defendant Dr. Nikhil Hemady ("Hemady"). Jamaleddin claims that Oakland and Hemady discriminated against him during his employment and ultimately forced him to resign from his residency program. In this action, Jamaleddin asserts claims for (1) discrimination based on national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et. seq. ("Title VII"), and Michigan's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, MCL 37.201 et. seq. (the "ELCRA"); (2) retaliation in violation of Title VII and the ELCRA; and (3) breach of his residency employment contract. ( See Complaint, ECF #1.) Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. ( See ECF #18.) For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES summary judgment on Jamaleddin's national origin discrimination and breach of contract claims but GRANTS summary judgment with respect to Jamaleddin's retaliatory harassment claims.


On February 25, 2011, Jamaleddin, who is of Arabic descent, and Oakland executed a "Residency Agreement" in which Oakland "offer[ed] and [Jamaleddin] accept[ed] appointment as a first year resident in Family Medicine for the year beginning July 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2012." ( See the "Residency Agreement, " ECF #21-2 at § I, Pg. ID 792.) Among other things, the Residency Agreement stated that the "Program Director" of the Family Medicine Department - Defendant Hemady - "shall determine [Jamaleddin's] duties and responsibilities [], including [Jamaleddin's] hours of duty...." ( Id. at § III, Pg. ID 792.) Oakland also "agree[d] to provide [Jamaleddin] a training program that meets the standards established in the essentials of approved residencies as formulated by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education of the American Medical Association." ( Id. at § II, Pg. ID 792.) Finally, as relevant to this action, the Residency Agreement included an anti-discrimination provision that stated that Oakland "shall not discriminate against [Jamaleddin] based on race, color, religion, sex, [or] national origin... and shall conduct itself in compliance with the various state and federal laws and Hospital policies which prohibit employment discrimination." ( Id. at § VIII, ¶ B, Pg. ID 794.)

Jamaleddin began his residency program in July 2011, and conflicts arose between Jamaleddin and Hemady almost immediately. For example, Jamaleddin says that during his orientation, Hemady told Jamaleddin that he needed to "give up" his "Arab mentality." (Jamaleddin Deposition, Exhibit H to ECF #21-3 at 95, Pg. ID 941.) On another occasion, Hemady allegedly asked Jamaleddin if he was using "Arabic time." ( Id. at 96, Pg. ID 941.) Jamaleddin also says that while he received favorable reviews from some of the physicians he worked with ( see, e.g., Exhibit D to ECF #21-2, Pg. ID 851-882), Hemady "refused to meet with [Jamaleddin] and evaluate [Jamaleddin]." (Jamaleddin Dep. at 97, Pg. ID 941.) According to Jamaleddin:

Dr. Hemady never met with me to evaluate me, to train me, to talk to me like the other residents he does. He never really gave me the environment of teaching and caring that he gives to the other residents.
The program director is like my father. If he chooses not to train me, not to show me things, then I'm just cut out of the whole program, basically. [Hemady] was not meeting with me, he's not evaluating me, he's not educating me.

( Id. at 139, Pg. ID 952.)

In September 2011, Hemady e-mailed Jamaleddin regarding concerns Hemady had with Jamaleddin's performance. ( See Exhibit F to ECF #21-2, Pg. ID 910.) In that e-mail, Hemady chastised Jamaleddin for "not logg[ing] [his] duty hours for the last two weeks, " for failing to "turn[] in his resident self-assessment document, " and for wearing "scrubs [] when seeing patients in the Family Medicine Center, " which Hemady noted "is against the residency program policy." ( Id. ) Hemedy further told Jamaleddin that:

You have been verbally warned over the past few months by a number of individuals (including your faculty advisor and chief residents) because of several concerns regarding your professionalism, and interpersonal and communication skills. Hence, if you do not perform the duties and responsibilities of a resident as required by the program and institution, there will be disciplinary action taken against you, including the possibility of being terminated from the residency program.

( Id. ) Jamaleddin disputes Hemady's assertion regarding improperly logged duty hours. ( See Jamaleddin Dep. at 28-30, Pg. ID 924-925.) Further, Jamaleddin says that after receiving Hemady's e-mail, he turned in his self-assessment form as directed and never again wore scrubs in the Family Medicine Center. ( See id. )

An incident that occurred on November 3, 2011, precipitated the end of Jamaleddin's employment at Oakland. Jamaleddin began working at 7:00 a.m. that day. ( See id. at 81, Pg. ID 937.) Jamaleddin was scheduled to work until 9:00 p.m., and he was scheduled to begin another shift at 7:00 a.m. the following day. ( See id. ; see also id. at 137-141, Pg. ID 951-952.) Jamaleddin says that early in his shift, he spoke with Hemady and voiced his concern that Oakland was forcing him to work too many hours without sufficient breaks between shifts. ( See id. at 98-99, Pg. ID 942.) According to Jamaleddin, he told Hemady that he believed he was being "discriminated [against] because of [his] Arabic decent." ( Id. at 98, Pg. ID 942.)

Later that evening, near the end of Jamaleddin's shift, Dr. Henry Fosah, the floor chief resident, asked Jamaleddin to draft a patient history. ( See id. at 78-79.) Jamaleddin agreed to draft the history, but he then became concerned that he would not have time to complete the assignment before the end of his shift. ( Id. ) Jamaleddin says he did not want to stay late to complete the history ...

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