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Weintraub v. City of Dearborn

United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division

March 31, 2015

LEROY WEINTRAUB, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF DEARBORN, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION IN LIMINE, AND NOTICE SETTING FINAL PRETRIAL CONFERENCE AND TRIAL DATES

Denise Page Hood, United States District Judge.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Leroy Weintraub filed the Complaint against Defendant City of Dearborn on April 1, 2013 alleging: a Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1211(7) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e (Count I); and a Violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2615 (Count II). (Comp., Doc. No. 1)

In his Complaint, Weintraub asserts he was hired by the City of Dearborn on October 18, 1994 as a Water and Sewer Technician. (Comp., ¶ 9) Weintraub was discharged by the City of Dearborn in a December 28, 2011 notice stating, “[b]ecause you are unable to secure MDOT [Michigan Department of Transportation] card due to your medical condition, you’ll be released from your position as water and sewer technician effective December 30, 2011.” (Comp., ¶ 10) By doing so on December 30, 2011, Weintraub claims the City of Dearborn avoided giving him another term of eligible FMLA leave beginning January 2, 2012. (Comp., ¶ 12) Weintraub asserts that he was wrongfully discharged because of his medical issues even though his doctor had assured the City of Dearborn that his diabetes and blood pressure were under control. (Comp., ¶¶ 11, 13) Weintraub further asserts that the City of Dearborn harassed him and forced him to submit to sugar tests on a daily basis and in the presence of his superiors. (Comp., ¶ 18) He states that the City of Dearborn refused to sign a waiver that would have allowed him to obtain an MDOT card. (Comp., § 17) Weintraub claims the City of Dearborn refused his request for accommodation, even though he was qualified for the available open positions. (Comp., ¶ 14)

This matter is before the Court on the City of Dearborn’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 13) and Weintraub’s Motion in Limine (Doc. No. 14). Responses and replies have been filed and a hearing was held on the matter.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Motion for Summary Judgment

1. Standard of Review

Rule 56(a) of the Rules of Civil Procedures provides that the court “shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The presence of factual disputes will preclude granting of summary judgment only if the disputes are genuine and concern material facts. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” only if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. Although the Court must view the motion in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, where “the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment must be entered against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be “no genuine issue as to any material fact, ” since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. A court must look to the substantive law to identify which facts are material. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

2. Limitations Period

The City of Dearborn argues that Weintraub’s action is barred because his actual last day of work was September 7, 2011 and that the December 28, 2011 letter informing Weintraub was released from his position did not control the date his ADA claim began to accrue. (Motion, Ex. 7) The City of Dearborn claims that because Weintraub had not been at work since September 7, 2011 and was on an unpaid medical leave after that date, the alleged discrimination could not have occurred after that date. The City of Dearborn further claims that Weintraub’s October 9, 2012 charge of discrimination filed with the EEOC was untimely filed beyond the 300 days from the September 7, 2011 date. (Motion, Ex. 14)

Weintraub responds that the discriminatory act occurred on the date of his discharge, December 28, 2011. (Motion, Ex. 7) He also claims that the refusal to make reasonable accommodations for his return to work after he was discharged also constitutes unlawful employment practices. He argues that his October 9, 2012 charge of discrimination was timely based on the December 28, 2011 date.

A Michigan plaintiff claiming a ADA or Title VII violation must file an administrative charge before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) within 300 days “after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1); Nichols v. Muskingum College, 318 F.3d 674, 679-80 (6th Cir. 2003). A timely filing of a charge of discrimination with the EEOC is a precondition to filing a suit with the federal district court, and if the filing is untimely, the claim is barred. See, Zipes v. Transworld Airlines, Inc., 455 U.S. 385, 393 (19821). The Supreme Court has held that “the proper focus is on the time of the discriminatory act, not the point at which the consequences of the act become painful.” Chardon v. Fernandez, 454 U.S. 6, 8 (1981). “Mere continuity of employment, without more, is insufficient to prolong the life of a cause of action for employment discrimination.” Id. The cause of action accrues in a discrimination claim when a plaintiff has notice of the termination or when the discreet act of discrimination occurred. Janikowski v. Bendix Corp., 823 F.2d 945, 947 (6th Cir. 1987). “Repeated requests for further relief from a prior act of discrimination will not set the time limitations running anew.” Id. (quoting EEOC v. McCall Printing Corp., 633 F.2d 1232, 1237 (6th Cir. 1980)). The “continuing violation” doctrine is only applied where the defendant had subjected a plaintiff to discriminatory working conditions throughout the term of his or her employment; but the discrete decision not to employ a plaintiff in other positions after receiving a notice of termination is not the same as the daily discriminatory working conditions suffered by a plaintiff. Id. at 948.

Based on the parties’ submissions, the Court finds that Weintraub’s discrimination claim was timely filed before the EEOC. The evidence shows that the City of Dearborn sent a December 28, 2011 letter to Weintraub stating, “Because you are unable to secure an MDOT card due to your medical condition, you will be released from your position as Water and Sewer Technician 1 effective December 30, 2011.” (Motion, Ex. 7) The City of Dearborn’s argument that the claim began to accrue on Weintraub’s actual last day of work on September 7, 2011 is not supported by any evidence, other than his time sheet indicating he was at work on that day. There is no evidence submitted by the City of Dearborn that on September 7, 2011, Weintraub was notified he no longer had a position with the City of Dearborn, despite being on unpaid medical leave after that date. It was not until ...


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