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Ali v. Advance America Cash Advance Centers, Inc.

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

June 24, 2015

RAGHDAA ALI, Plaintiff,
v.
ADVANCE AMERICA CASH ADVANCE CENTERS, INC., a Delaware corporation; ADVANCE AMERICA CASH ADVANCE CENTERS OF MICHIGAN, INC., a Delaware corporation; JANE DOE, Store Manager, Advance America Cash Advance Centers of Michigan, Inc. Location Number 1378, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 31) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 34) AND BIFURCATING LIABILITY FROM INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AND DAMAGES

AVERN COHN, District Judge.

This is a discrimination case. Raghdaa Ali (Plaintiff) seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the public accommodations provision of the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, M.C.L. § 37.2302 (ELCRA). Plaintiff claims that Advance America Cash Advance Centers, Inc. (Defendants), a financial business whose services include check cashing, violated these statutes by refusing to do business with her because she was wearing a headscarf. Defendants say the restriction against headscarves is for the safety and security of its employees.

Now before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 31) and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Permanent Injunction (Doc. 34). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART and Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED.

Additionally, Plaintiff's § 1981 claim and national origin claim under the ELCRA are DISMISSED.[1] Plaintiff's claim that Defendants are liable for religious discrimination under the ELCRA shall proceed to trial, separate from Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief and damages.

II. BACKGROUND

A.

Plaintiff is a Muslim female and an Arab American. She was born in Baghdad, Iraq, and adorns a headscarf consistent with her religious beliefs.[2] For religious reasons, her headscarf cannot be removed in a public place.

On June 13, 2014, Plaintiff visited Defendants' branch office in Inkster, MI, to obtain a money order. There was a sign at the entrance of the branch office that read, "REMOVE HATS AND SUNGLASSES." Plaintiff attempted to enter the branch office. She was told that she would not be allowed in the store unless she removed her headscarf. A headscarf is considered by Defendants to be a form of hat.

Defendants assert that their policy against hats is to ensure the safety and security of the branch office. Defendants state that this constitutes a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its policy.

B.

Plaintiff claims (1) deprivation of her of her civil rights in violation of § 1981; (2) discrimination on the basis of national origin (Iraq) and religion (Islam) in violation of ELCRA; and (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress. In addition, Plaintiff seeks a permanent injunction enjoining Defendants from denying services to Plaintiff and to all other Arab American, Muslim women who wear a headscarf. Both parties assert that they are entitled to summary judgment.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The summary judgment standard of review under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 is well known and not repeated here. Ultimately a district court must determine whether the record as a whole presents a genuine issue of material fact drawing "all justifiable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving ...


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