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Randolph v. Detroit Public Schools

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

March 22, 2017

RODEREK RANDOLPH, Plaintiff,
v.
DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#22] AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#17]

          Denise Page Hood, United States District Court Chief Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The instant dispute stems from Defendant's alleged violation of Plaintiff's rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C.§ 2601 et seq. (the “FMLA”). Plaintiff alleges Defendant interfered with his rights under the FMLA by telling him he was not qualified for FMLA and failing to provide him with up to 12 weeks unpaid leave to care for his mother who was suffering from a serious medical condition.

         On August 1, 2016, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 22], and Defendant's Motion has been fully briefed. A hearing on Defendant's Motion was held on November 30, 2016. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and dismisses Plaintiff's cause of action.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In December 1993, Plaintiff Roderick Randolph began working as a substitute teacher for Defendant Detroit Public Schools, a covered employer under the FMLA. Beginning in May 2011, Plaintiff became a full-time substitute teacher with Defendant. As of February 2014, Plaintiff was a qualifying employee for purposes of being entitled to take leave under the FMLA because he had worked more than the required 1250 hours in the preceding 12-month period.

         Plaintiff represents that he received notification in early February 2014 that his mother had been admitted to the hospital with cancer. Plaintiff states that his mother was incapacitated in the hospital and needed his assistance with care and personal matters. Plaintiff claims he acted as his mother's caretaker while she was incapacitated. About three days after learning of his mother's medical condition, Plaintiff went to Defendant's human resources department to request medical leave to care for his mother. Plaintiff spoke with Andrea Davis (“Ms. Davis”), who testified that she was a human resources technician for Defendant. Plaintiff testified that he indicated to Ms. Davis that he needed to take leave to care for his mother in the hospital. Plaintiff further testified that Ms. Davis advised him that he did not qualify for FMLA leave because he was not a contract teacher. Ms. Davis has offered fluctuating, even contradictory, statements regarding what Plaintiff told her about his need for leave and how she responded.

         Plaintiff was not provided with any information regarding FMLA leave, nor did Ms. Davis discuss Plaintiff's request for time off with anyone else in the human resources department. Ultimately, Plaintiff resigned from his position, effective February 18, 2014. About two weeks later, when Plaintiff no longer needed to care for his mother, he returned to Defendant's human resources department to inquire about being placed as a substitute teacher again. At that time, Plaintiff learned he had been placed on Defendant's “do not hire” list, and he was not rehired.

         On November 11, 2015, Plaintiff filed the instant cause of action.

         III. APPLICABLE LAW & ANALYSIS

         A. 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.

         B. Analysis

         The FMLA prohibits an employer from “interfer[ing] with, restrain[ing], or deny[ing] the exercise of” an employee's FMLA rights. 29 U.S.C § 2615(a)(l). An employer also must not retaliate against an employee who uses FMLA leave. Bryantv. Dollar Gen. Corp., 538 F.3d 394, 400-01 (6th Cir.2008). Courts have recognized two distinct theories of recovery for violations of the FMLA: (1) the so-called “interference” theory, and (2) the “retaliation” or “discrimination” theory. 29 U.S.C. § ...


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