Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Eggelston v. Nexteer Automotive Corp.

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

January 20, 2017

NEXTEER AUTOMOTIVE CORP., et al., Defendants.


          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge.

         On September 16, 2016 Plaintiff Eric Eggelston initiated the above-captioned action by filing his complaint against his former employer, Defendant Nexteer Automotive Corporation, and his former local union, United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Local 699 (“Local 699” or “the Union”). In his complaint Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Nexteer wrongfully terminated him from his A-bucket position in retaliation for his exercise of his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq, because of his race in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), the Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”), M.C.L. 37.2202, and in retaliation for opposing a violation of ELCRA in violation of MCL 37.201(a). Plaintiff also alleges that, in failing to properly represent him because of his race, Defendant Local 699 violated ELCRA's prohibitions of race discrimination and retaliation for opposing a violation of the act.

         On November 3, 2016 Defendant Local 699 filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against it pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 6. Defendant Local 699 argues that Plaintiff's ELCRA claims are completely preempted by Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, or, in the alternative, completely preempted by federal labor law requiring a union to fairly represent its members. Defendant Local 699 further argues that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, and that his preempted claims therefore must be dismissed. For the reasons stated below, Defendant Local 699's motion will be granted.


         Plaintiff Eric Eggelston is a resident of Saginaw County, Michigan. See Compl. ¶ 1. On or about July 1, 2010, Plaintiff was hired as an assemblyman by Defendant Nexteer, a corporation domiciled in Delaware and operating a facility in Saginaw, Michigan. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 6. As a result of his employment with Nexteer, Plaintiff became a member of Local 699, a labor organization domiciled in the state of Michigan. Id. at ¶¶ 3, 7. Local 699 is a local chapter of the International United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (“UAW”). He was therefore party to a Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between Defendant Nexteer and Defendant Local 699.


         Early into his employment, Plaintiff observed that Local 699 officials were not adequately representing African-American members in filing grievances. Id. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff therefore began assisting African-American employees in filing appeals. Id. at ¶ 9. On one occasion spanning from late 2010 to early 2011, Plaintiff successfully assisted a man named Larease Williamson in appealing a wrongful discharge. Id. at ¶¶ 10-12.

         Following Mr. Williamson's return to work, on March 30, 2011 Plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted by a Local 699 elected Committeeman named Joe Laurn, who allegedly threatened to retaliate against Plaintiff for providing assistance to union members with their appeals. Id. at ¶ 13. Despite Plaintiff's complaints to Nexteer's Human Resources department, no action was taken. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff's attempt to obtain a personal protection order against Mr. Laurn from the court was also unsuccessful. Id. at ¶ 15. Finally, on January 6, 2012 Plaintiff wrote a letter to the International President of UAW regarding the March 30, 2011 assault incident and alleging that Defendant Nexteer had a practice of discriminating against Plaintiff and others on the basis of race. Id. at ¶ 15.

         Less than two weeks after Plaintiff sent the letter, on January 18, 2012, Defendant Nexteer suspended Plaintiff for the balance of his shift and for two weeks based on an accusation that Plaintiff had stopped the assembly line. Id. at ¶ 17. That same day Plaintiff grieved the discipline through the Union, alleging that Defendant had not followed the progressive disciplinary provisions of the CBA. Id. at ¶ 18. On March 27, 2012 Plaintiff's grievance was settled, his discipline was reduced, and he was paid for time missed. Id. at ¶ 21.

         Plaintiff's issues with Defendants continued through the 2012 calendar year. On or about April 2, 2012 Plaintiff's supervisor, Shannon Decker, issued Plaintiff a discipline of a suspension for the balance of his shift and 30 days. Id. at ¶ 26.[1] However, after serving only two days of the suspension Plaintiff was returned to work and provided pay for the two days served. Id. at ¶ 27. Then, on May 23, 2012 Ms. Decker issued Plaintiff a notice of discipline for unexcused absences from May 16 to May 18, 2012. Id. at ¶ 22. Plaintiff alleges that in March of 2012 he had requested vacation time from May 14 to May 18, 2012, which had been approved by Ms. Decker. Plaintiff further alleges that Ms. Decker had altered his request, changing the “8” of May 18 to a “5”, and then writing “2-days” next to the request. Id. at ¶ 24. In response Plaintiff filed two grievances. In the first, filed on May 24, 2012, Plaintiff demanded the removal of the attendance points assessed against him. Id. at ¶ 27. In the second, filed on May 25, 2012, Plaintiff alleged that by altering his time off request Ms. Decker had harassed him. Id. at ¶ 29.

         In July of 2012, Plaintiff was promoted from an assemblyman to an “A-bucket position.” Id. at ¶ 30. He therefore began reporting to Sean Higgins. Id.


         Almost two years later, on or about March 14, 2014 Plaintiff requested time off pursuant to the FMLA for sleep apnea. Compl. ¶ 31. Plaintiff was provided with forms on March 17, 2014, which he completed and returned to Defendant Nexteer on March 27, 2014. Id. at ¶¶ 32-33. On April 7, 2014 Plaintiff was notified by Denny Getgood, a human resources representative, that his request was not approved. Id. at ¶ 34. That same day, Plaintiff's Union representative, Robert Essennacher, sent Mr. Getgood an email informing him that Plaintiff did not receive sufficient notice as to why his FMLA request was being denied. Id. at ¶ 37. Mr. Getgood responded that Plaintiff's request was being denied because Plaintiff's condition had not required any hospital visits or overnight stays.[2] Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Getgood was incorrect because he had spent two overnights at a hospital in order to undergo sleep studies. Id. at ¶ 39.

         In response to the denial, on April 10, 2014 Plaintiff requested that his Local 699 representative call the Civil & Human Rights committee to file a racial discrimination complaint against Mr. Getgood. Id. at ¶ 40. Plaintiff also informed Mr. Getgood of his desire to file a racial discrimination complaint against him. Id. at ¶ 41. Plaintiff followed up with Local 699 on January 27, 2015 again requesting that his representative file a civil rights complaint on his behalf, but the representative did not do so. Id. at ¶ 43.


         On September 4, 2015 Mr. Goodwin terminated Plaintiff's employment, claiming that Plaintiff had taken a sandwich from Nexteer's food market without paying for it. Id. at ¶ 45. Plaintiff contended that he did not steal anything, but instead had simply substituted an expired sandwich with an unexpired sandwich in accordance with market procedures. Id. at ¶ 46-49. Despite the fact that Defendant Nexteer and Defendant Local 699 had previously agreed to return two Caucasian employees to work after stealing from the market, Defendants did not reach an agreement to return Plaintiff to work. Id. at ¶ 51.

         Plaintiff obtained a right to sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on June 21, 2016. See Compl. Ex. A. Plaintiff then initiated the present action against Defendants on September 16, 2016, asserting the following six counts: (1) Race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Defendant Nexteer; (2) Retaliation in violation of the FMLA by Defendant Nexteer; (3) Race discrimination in violation of ELCRA by Defendant Nexteer; (4) Retaliation in violation of ELCRA by Defendant Nexteer; ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.