United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#27] AND CANCELLING HEARING
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
On March 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed the instant action pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. He brings his claims against his former employer and supervisor, Defendants General Motors, LLC (“GM”) and Matt Hespenburger. Presently before the Court is Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, filed on July 16, 2014. This matter is fully briefed and the Court finds that resolution of the instant motion does not require oral argument. As such, the Court will cancel the May 4, 2015 hearing and will determine the motion on the briefs submitted. See E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment.
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff began working for GM at its Toledo, Ohio transmission facility as a quality operator in 1994. Plaintiff was a member of the Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (“UAW”) and his employment terms were governed by a collectively bargained GM-UAW Agreement. As a quality operator, Plaintiff’s job duties rotated based on the plant’s needs and typically involved working on the assembly line, packing and preparing parts for the line, unloading trucks and driving a forklift.
GM and the UAW have developed a process known as Accommodating Disabled People in Transition or ADAPT to place hourly employees with physical impairments in available jobs within their restrictions. Throughout Plaintiff’s employment with GM, he was placed in various jobs through the ADAPT program for various physical restrictions.
On March 29, 2011, Plaintiff was working in a position at the end of the assembly line that required him to use a forklift to stack empty pods on the line that were to be filled with assembled transmissions. Plaintiff would then remove the transmission pods from the line and feed them through a bander that secures the pods for shipping. According to Plaintiff, the bander stopped working and he stepped off of the forklift. This caused the production line to go down.
Defendant Hettmansperger spoke with Plaintiff to determine why the line had stopped. Hettmansperger smelled alcohol on Plaintiff’s breathe. Plaintiff stated he was leaving and walked away. Hettmansperger instructed Plaintiff to stop, however Plaintiff retorted with threatening language. Plaintiff denies getting physical with Hettmansperger, however he admits that when Hettmansperger’s phone fell to the ground, Plaintiff picked it up and walked away with it.
When security arrived, Hettmansperger reported that Plaintiff had charged him, punched and shoved him into a bank of lockers causing him to drop his cellular phone. Security noted that Hettmansperger had a visible mark on his right forearm and he received treatment from the plant medical department for his arm and swelling in his jaw and knee.
Management investigated the incident, reviewed Hettmansperger’s medical report, written statements obtained by security and security’s final report. When Plaintiff returned to work, a disciplinary interview was conducted by Labor Relations Manager George Williams and Manager Chris Koviak. A UAW representative was also present. When the interview was complete, Plaintiff signed Williams’s interview notes to affirm the written notes were “accurate and true.” Following the interview, GM terminated Plaintiff based on its findings from the investigation. Plaintiff believes Mr. Williams and Mr. Koviak made the decision to terminate his employment. He does not know if they were aware of his medical condition.
On December 19, 2011, Plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging his termination was because of his race and disability. Plaintiff did not identify his disability in the EEOC claim. On January 18, 2012, the EEOC dismissed the charge and advised Plaintiff that he had ninety days to file any lawsuit.
Plaintiff initiated a union grievance challenging his discharge, and he was reinstated on March 12, 2012 as a result of a negotiated resolution to his grievance. In exchange for reinstatement, Plaintiff signed a last chance agreement in which he agreed to several conditions. Specifically, he agreed to be placed on probation for twenty-four months, to refrain from initiating any contact with Hettmansperger and to release all claims against GM regarding discipline, discharge or other employment policies. Plaintiff further agreed that his disciplinary record would be set at the last step of the progressive discipline process. Thus, if he engaged in further insubordination, threatening or intimidating conduct or abusive language, he would be terminated.
Plaintiff was assigned to a different shift, department and supervisor upon his return to work. Plaintiff did not have any medical restrictions and he was cleared to return to work by the plant’s medical department. When he was asked by the medical department personnel if there was any reason he was unable to work, Plaintiff reported that he has high blood pressure that was controlled with medication. He did not identify any other physical impediments to working.
In June of 2012, Plaintiff was scheduled to have surgery on his hand. Plaintiff’s doctor issued a short-term restriction for Plaintiff. Specifically, Plaintiff was limited to total use by his right hand. Plaintiff presented his restriction for a one-handed job to GM and it was reviewed by the plant’s medical department and an ADAPT representative. However, there were no available jobs at that time within Plaintiff’s ...