United States District Court, E.D. Michigan
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION [Doc. 53]
Honorable Victoria A. Roberts
December 22, 2016, the Court entered an order granting in
part Henry Ford Health System's (“HFHS”)
motion for summary judgment and denying Qiana Quinn's
motion for summary judgment. Quinn's claims for pregnancy
discrimination and pregnancy retaliation under Title VII and
Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act
(“ELCRA”) - Counts 1-4 in the second amended
complaint - survived summary judgment. HFHS moves for
reconsideration, arguing that the Court should dismiss these
remaining claims. [Doc. 53].
Rule 7.1(h)(3) provides the Court's standard of review
for a motion for reconsideration:
Generally, and without restricting the court's
discretion, the court will not grant motions for ...
reconsideration that merely present the same issues ruled
upon by the court, either expressly or by reasonable
implication. The movant must not only demonstrate a palpable
defect by which the court and the parties and other persons
entitled to be heard on the motion have been misled but also
show that correcting the defect will result in a different
disposition of the case.
E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(h)(3). Palpable defects are those which are
“obvious, clear, unmistakable, manifest or
plain.” Mich. Dep't of Treasury v.
Michalec, 181 F.Supp.2d 731, 734 (E.D. Mich. 2002).
“It is an exception to the norm for the Court to grant
a motion for reconsideration.” Maiberger v. City of
Livonia, 724 F.Supp.2d 759, 780 (E.D. Mich. 2010).
“[A]bsent a significant error that changes the outcome
of a ruling on a motion, the Court will not provide a party
with an opportunity to relitigate issues already
says the Court committed two palpable defects: (1) the Court
used the wrong standard for Quinn's discrimination claims
- i.e., the Court compared Quinn to a person whose ability to
work or not work was not similar to Quinn's; and (2)
Quinn's action of informing Ruffin she was pregnant did
not constitute protected activity for purposes of her
first alleged defect pertains to Counts 1 and 3, pregnancy
discrimination, and is baseless. Although Quinn's counsel
compared Quinn to Marsack - whose ability to work was not
similar to Quinn's - the Court did not adopt this
standard as HFHS asserts. The Court found that Quinn's
discrimination claims survived summary judgment because
genuine issues of material fact existed which would allow a
reasonable jury to conclude that Ruffin rescinded the
promotion because Quinn was pregnant in violation of Title
VII and the ELCRA. If the jury believes Quinn's
presentation of the facts, Marsack and her abilities would
not be relevant.
second argument pertains to Counts 2 and 4, retaliation, and
is correct: as a matter of law, simply informing Ruffin she
was pregnant does not constitute a protected activity under
Title VII or the ELCRA. Although HFHS argued generally in its
motion for summary judgment that Quinn did not engage in
protected activity, it did not specifically contend that
Quinn's act of informing Ruffin she was pregnant was not
a protected activity. Nevertheless, the Court finds it
appropriate to address this argument at this juncture. To
assure Quinn was not prejudiced, the Court allowed her to
respond. The matter is fully briefed.
order to make a prima facie case of retaliation, Quinn must
show that: (1) she engaged in protected activity; (2) HFHS
knew she exercised her civil rights; (3) HFHS took an adverse
employment action against her; and (4) there was a causal
connection between her exercise of protected activity and the
adverse employment action. Wasek v. Arrow Energy
Servs., Inc., 682 F.3d 463, 468-69 (6th Cir. 2012).
Title VII, there are two types of protected activity:
participation in a proceeding with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and opposition to
an apparent Title VII violation.” Id. at 469.
See also 42 U.S.C. § 2000e- 3(a) (“It
shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to
discriminate against any of his employees or applicants for
employment . . . because he has opposed any practice made an
unlawful employment practice by this subchapter, or because
he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in
any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under
this subchapter.”). Retaliation under the ELCRA is
materially the same as under Title VII. See Mich.
Comp. Laws § 37.2701(a).
act of telling Ruffin she was pregnant does not constitute
opposing an unlawful employment practice, and she did not
file an EEOC complaint until well after Ruffin made the
employment decision. As a matter of law, Quinn did not engage
in protected activity when she told Ruffin she was pregnant.
response to HFHS's motion for reconsideration, Quinn says
she “opposed Ms. Ruffin's stated predisposition to
not promote her, in violation of Title VII and ELCRA because
[she] was pregnant, by requesting to be promoted despite
being pregnant.” [Doc. 70, PgID 2012]. This sets forth
an arguable claim of retaliation. Viewing the facts and all
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to Quinn, a
reasonable jury could find that: (1) after Ruffin told Quinn
that her pregnancy threw “a little curve in the thing,
” Quinn contacted or attempted to contact Ruffin
multiple times requesting to be promoted despite being
pregnant (i.e., protected activity); and (2) because Quinn
requested to be promoted despite being pregnant, Ruffin
rescinded the promotion and/or did not offer her the position
(i.e., adverse action and causal connection).
Quinn did not specifically plead these allegations in her
second amended complaint, the Court construes Quinn's
response liberally as an amendment to her pleading; this is
appropriate considering HFHS did not raise this particular
argument in its motion for summary judgment, and because
discovery arguably supports this claim of retaliation.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) (“a party may
amend its pleading . . . with . . . the court's leave.
The court should freely give leave when justice so
requires.”). See also Rule 15(b)(1)
(“If, at trial, a party objects that evidence is not
within the issues raised in the pleadings, the court may
permit the pleadings to be amended. The court should freely
permit an ...