United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 43)
LINDA V. PARKER, District Judge.
This is an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff Jack McCool ("Plaintiff") formerly worked for local affiliates of Defendant Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association of the United States and Canada, AFL-CIO ("Defendant"). (Compl., ECF No. 1 at Pg. ID 2.) Plaintiff asserts that he was demoted and ultimately terminated by Defendant due to his age. ( Id. ) Pending before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment, filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 43.) A motion hearing was held on January 7, 2015. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant's motion.
On March 11, 2001, Plaintiff was hired by Defendant as a Business Agent for its affiliated Local 67. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at Pg. ID 2.) Thereafter, Plaintiff was promoted to Business Manager. ( Id. ) On June 27, 2012, Defendant's Vice President, Dan Rauch, advised Plaintiff that Local 67 would be merging with another of Defendant's locals, Local 514, and that Plaintiff "would be demoted to a Business Agent position effective November 1, 2012." ( Id. ) Rauch also informed Plaintiff that Joel Santos, the then Business Manager of Local 514, would become the Business Manager of the merged entity. ( Id. ) When Plaintiff questioned Rauch as to why he was not chosen to be the Business Manager of the post-merger Local 514, Rauch allegedly told Plaintiff that "it was because of his age and that he was too old, or words to that affect." ( Id. ) Subsequently, Plaintiff complained to the General President, Patrick Finley about the selection and the discriminatory reason for the decision, to which Finley told Plaintiff that "he ha[d] to go by [Vice President Rauch's] decision." (EEOC Charge of Discrimination, ECF No. 43-9 at Pg. ID 1114.)
On October 16, 2012, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), asserting that he had been demoted because of his age (59 years old at the time of demotion), in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ( Id. ) Further, on October 25, 2012, Plaintiff notified Defendant via a letter from his attorney that Defendant should not take "any further actions of age discrimination against him." (Compl., ECF No. 1 at Pg. ID 2.) Plaintiff received a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC on May 22, 2013. (ECF No. 43-10.)
On November 1, 2012, Defendant assigned Plaintiff to the Business Agent position of Local 514, and on July 22, 2013, Defendant terminated Plaintiff. Shortly afterwards, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, (ECF No. 1.) Thereafter, Defendant filed its motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 43.)
Summary judgment must be granted if the pleadings and evidence "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A dispute over a material fact is only a "genuine issue" if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party on that issue. Cockrel v. Shelby County Sch. Dist., 270 F.3d 1036, 1048 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). "In deciding a summary judgment motion, the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.'" Snyder v. Kohl's Dep't Stores, Inc., 580 F.Appx. 458, 461 (6th Cir. 2014) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). Likewise, the burden of establishing the nonexistence of a material factual dispute always rests with the movant. Id. (citing Smith v. Hudson, 600 F.2d 60, 65 (6th Cir.1979)) (quotations omitted).
Plaintiff's first claim (Claim 1) is that Defendant discriminated against him on the basis of age by: (a) demoting him; and (b) discharging him, in violation of both the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the Michigan state law corollary, the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act, MCL § 37.2201 et seq. (Compl., ECF No. 1 at Pg. ID 3.) Plaintiff's second claim (Claim 2) is that Defendant retaliated against him for filing the charge of discrimination and for sending the letter by: (a) demoting him; and (b) terminating him, also in violation of the same provisions of law previously mentioned. ( Id. ) The same analysis governs Plaintiffs claims under both the ADEA and the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Bondurant v. Air Line Pilots Ass'n, Int'l, 679 F.3d 386, 394 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Geiger v. Tower Auto., 579 F.3d 614, 626 (6th Cir.2009)).
Defendant argues in its brief that it is entitled to summary judgment on various grounds. First, in support of this position, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff's charge of discrimination only addresses Claim 1(a), in which Plaintiff asserts Defendant discriminated against him on the basis of age by demoting him. Thus, argues Defendant, Plaintiff has not exhausted his administrative remedies as to his other claims by filing a charge addressing those claims, noting that the ADEA and Michigan Civil Rights Act require a plaintiff to exhaust his or her administrative remedies prior to bringing a civil action. As a result, Defendant argues that Claims 1(b), 2(a), and 2(b) should be discharged. The Court agrees.
It is readily apparent that Claims 1(b) and 2(b) - in which Plaintiff argues that Defendant discriminated against him on the basis of age by terminating him and retaliated against him by terminating him - were not raised by Plaintiff in the charge he filed. It is not possible that Plaintiff could have included any information about his termination in his charge of discrimination, because his termination had not ...