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Miller v. Road Commission For Oakland County

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

December 13, 2016

WAYNE MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
ROAD COMMISSION FOR OAKLAND COUNTY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          HON. JOHN CORBETT O'MEARA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment, which has been fully briefed. The court heard oral argument on December 8, 2016, and took the matter under advisement. For the reasons explained below, Defendant's motion is granted.

         BACKGROUND FACTS

         Plaintiff Wayne Miller is suing his former employer, the Road Commission for Oakland County (“RCOC”). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant interfered with his right to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and retaliated against him, resulting in his constructive discharge.

         Plaintiff began working for RCOC in May 2011 as its information systems supervisor. Plaintiff was responsible for supervising four employees and reported to David Evancoe, the Director of Planning and Environmental Concerns. Plaintiff worked in Waterford, Michigan, while Evancoe's office was in Beverly Hills, Michigan. Plaintiff was required to keep track of his time by entering the hours worked and appropriate pay code (regular, overtime, vacation, FMLA, etc.).

         In December 2014, Plaintiff's wife was seriously injured in a car accident. Plaintiff submitted a request for intermittent FMLA leave to care for his wife on December 26, 2014. Defendant approved Plaintiff's request for leave on February 6, 2015. Plaintiff testified that Evancoe was supportive of his need to take leave. Pl.'s Dep. at 25, 30.

         In early 2015, several problems arose with RCOC's computer system, including a number of “denial of service attacks, ” viruses, and the crash of its email server. Pl.'s Dep. at 77-78. Evancoe testified that it was Plaintiff's responsibility to keep the IT systems running smoothly. See Evancoe Dep. at 10-11.

         In March 2015, Evancoe noticed discrepancies on three of Plaintiff's weekly time sheets. For example, Plaintiff's time sheet indicated that he had worked forty hours the week of March 2, 2015, but in emails to Evancoe, Plaintiff stated that he was taking one and a half days off that week. See Def.'s Ex. L. Plaintiff testified that he was “distracted” by behavioral issues with his children at school, his wife's and mother's health issues, and viruses on RCOC's computer system. Pl.'s Dep. at 31.

         On April 4, 2015, Plaintiff emailed Evancoe to say that he forgot that his kids would be off for spring break the next week. Plaintiff stated that he would come to work the next week, but that he needed to leave by 11 a.m. each day. He also said that “I have also self-diagnosed myself with severe lack of sleep with the accompanying irrational behavior. I need to get some rest.” Def.'s Ex. M.

         On April 8, 2015, Plaintiff emailed Evancoe: “I am still unable to concentrate. I will need to take the remainder of the week off. Will use FMLA if no ‘hours' are available. Thanx!!” Def.'s Ex. K. Later that day, Evancoe emailed Plaintiff, asking him to meet with Evancoe and Pam Cahill, RCOC's human resources director. Evancoe wrote: “We are concerned for you and would like to discuss how we can be of assistance and to discuss some resources that might be of benefit to you. Additionally, we want to discuss your FMLA status and see whether a modification to it would be appropriate to better reflect your current situation.” Def.'s Ex. O.

         Plaintiff, Evancoe, and Cahill met on April 13, 2015. At that meeting, Plaintiff was referred to the HelpNet Employee Assistance Program, as a result of Defendant's concerns about his absenteeism, leaving early, and sleep deprivation. See Def.'s Ex. Q. Cahill also provided Plaintiff with paperwork so that he could seek FMLA leave for his own medical condition. Plaintiff requested FMLA leave for himself on April 21, 2015. After granting Plaintiff extensions to provide medical certification, Defendant approved Plaintiff's FMLA leave on June 30, 2015.

         At the April 13 meeting, Cahill went over Plaintiff's time sheets with him, to ensure accurate timekeeping. In addition to his written time sheets, Plaintiff kept track of his time on a spreadsheet on his computer. Cahill and Plaintiff went through every day from January to April 2015 to reconcile the differences between what was submitted on his time sheets and what Plaintiff indicated was reflected on his spreadsheet to ensure the time was coded correctly. If Plaintiff stated he was not at work on a particular day, Cahill asked if the time was taken to care for his wife. If Plaintiff indicated that he had, the time was coded as FMLA, if he said no, the leave was unauthorized. Cahill Dep. at 44. Once Plaintiff's time records were corrected, Defendant paid Plaintiff for 81.75 hours of overtime that had not been previously reported. Def.'s Ex. S. Cahill stressed to Plaintiff the importance of submitting timely and accurate time sheets. Id.

         On June 8, 2015, Evancoe placed a memo in Plaintiff's file regarding an “oral reminder” that he was given regarding unauthorized absences and his failure to properly report time worked. Def.'s Ex. U. The memo indicated that Evancoe discussed various issues with Plaintiff, including that he was to turn in accurate time sheets and seek pre-approval for working remotely and overtime.

         On June 10, 2015, Evancoe provided Plaintiff with a copy of his performance review, which was negative. Evancoe rated Plaintiff as failing to meet expectations, noting that his “[p]erformance has gradually declined since the last performance appraisal. . . . Generally, there have been too many IT crisis, too many user complaints, issues with time keeping, little progress on advance initiatives, a loss of confidence by upper management and the Board and there is now a belief that ...


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