United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
NEYOKII Q. EUBANKS, Plaintiff,
TRICON SECURITY GROUP, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S JANUARY
13.2017 MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Corbett O'Meara United States District Judge
matter came before the court on defendant Tricon Security
Group's January 13, 2017 motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff Neyokii Q. Eubanks filed a response February 24,
2017; and Defendant filed a reply brief March 22, 2017.
Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), no oral argument was heard.
Neyokii ("Nikki") Eubanks was employed by defendant
Tricon Security Group for eight years. Tricon provides event
security and on-call personnel for various events in Michigan
was in a long-term, consensual relationship with her
supervisor Antoine Willis. The two maintained the
relationship for approximately six years, and they resided
together with Plaintiffs children. Plaintiff and Willis were
regularly scheduled to work the same events, including the
annual Electronic Forest Festival, a multi-day concert even
in Rothbury, Michigan, each June.
27, 2015, Plaintiff and Willis were again working at the
event where, as usual, they shared a tent as their living
space during off hours. Late that evening Plaintiff began
celebrating her birthday with other co-workers while Willis
was still working. There is no dispute that at approximately
3:00 a.m. on June 28, 2015, Willis returned to the tent area
to find Plaintiffs belongings outside the tent of Donald
Mitchell, who also worked at the event but for another
employer. From all accounts, Willis became enraged and caused
a scene in the tent area, cursing and yelling loudly.
Defendant ordered Willis to leave the event and return home
the following day. Plaintiff claims she was terminated
following the incident because of Willis' jealousy, as
she was never assigned to work a day afterward. Defendant
contends that she was terminated because she failed to show
up for work and failed to call in to work on June 28, 2015.
filed this suit alleging sex discrimination in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Her state law
claims were previously dismissed by the court.
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green. 411 U.S. 792
(1973), the United States Supreme Court established the order
of proof and the allocation of burdens in employment
discrimination cases in which a plaintiff has presented no
direct evidence of discrimination. To prevail on her claim of
sex discrimination, a plaintiff must first establish a.
prima facie case of discrimination. Id. at 802.
support a prima facie case of sex discrimination, a
plaintiff "must produce evidence which at a minimum
establishes (1) that he [or she] was a member of a protected
class and (2) that for the same or similar conduct he [or
she] was treated differently than similarly-situated
non-minority employees." Mitchell v. Toledo
Hosp., 964 F.2d 577, 582-83 (6th Cir. 1992). In
the employment context, a plaintiff s personal beliefs that
her employer discriminated against her, even if genuinely
held, are insufficient to establish a prima facie
case of discrimination or to raise a genuine issue of
material fact sufficient to preclude summary judgment. See
Id. at 584.
plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden
of production shifts to the defendant to articulate a
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its actions.
Texas Dep't of Comm. Affairs v. Burdine. 450
U.S. 248, 254 (1981). If the defendant articulates its
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employment
action, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to show that
the proffered reason is mere pretext to mask discrimination.
The defendant can meet its burden by articulating an honest
belief that it had a valid, nondiscriminatory reason for what
it did; and a plaintiff cannot establish pretext simply
because the reason is ultimately shown to be incorrect.
Majewski v. Automatic Data Processing. Inc.. 274
F.3d 1106, 1117 (6th Cir. 2001). Instead, a
plaintiff may show pretext by producing evidence that the
proffered reason (1) had no basis in fact, (2) did not
actually motivate the action, or (3) was insufficient to
warrant the action. Woida v. Genesys Regi Med. Ctr..
4 F.Supp.3d 880, 901 (E.D.Mich. 2014).
case plaintiff Eubanks' claim of sex discrimination is
based solely on her belief that she was terminated because of
Willis' jealousy. Eubanks dep. at 126; Compl. at ¶
27 ("After Willis suspected Plaintiff of cheating on him
with Mitchell, Willis discriminated against Plaintiff by
taking her off the schedule, effectively terminating her
employment with Tricon, solely because of his belief that she
was in a sexual relationship with Mitchell.").
allegations, even if true, however, fail to establish
evidence of discriminatory conduct based on her sex. Federal
courts "have consistently held that sex-based
discrimination prohibited in Title VII refers to the conduct
of requiring an employee to submit to sexually-based
harassment as a condition of employment or discrimination
based on gender, not discrimination based on sexual
affiliations or relationships." Barrett v. Kirtland
Comty. Coll.. 245 Mich.App. 306, 321 (2000). The United
States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has held that
personal animus, including jealousy, "cannot be the
basis of a discrimination claim under federal law"
Blackshear v. Interstate Brands Corp.. 495 Fed.Appx.
613 (6th Cir. 2012)(citing Barnett v.
Department of Veterans Affairs. 153 F.3d 338, 343
(6th Cir. 1998).
Eubanks could establish a prima facie case of
discrimination, defendant Tricon has articulated a
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for her termination-her
failure to report to work or to call in ("no show/no
call" or "NSNC") on June 28 2015, the day
following the incident in the tent area. Tricon also asserts
that in addition to the NSNC of June 28, Plaintiffs
employment situation was further compounded when Eubanks
subsequently attempted to get ...