United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
2015, Defendant MNP Corporation (“MNP”) fired
Plaintiff Kenan Zakaria (“Zakaria”) as part of a
reduction in force. In this action, Zakaria alleges that his
firing violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (the
“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §12112, the Michigan
Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (the
“PWDCRA”), M.C.L. 37.1202, and the Family and
Medical Leave Act (the “FMLA”), 29 U.S.C.
§§ 2614-15. MNP now moves for summary judgment on
all of Zakaria's claims (the “Motion”).
(See ECF #12.) For the reasons explained below, the
Court grants the Motion with respect to Zakaria's ADA and
PWDCRA claims and denies MNP's motion with respect to
Zakaria's FMLA claims.
May 27, 2013, until June 2015, Zakaria worked for the Beta
Steel Group (“Beta”), an affiliate of MNP.
(See Def.'s Resp. to Interrogs., ECF #14-6 at
Pg. ID 188-190; Samantha Maziasz Dep. at 8, ECF #14-3 at Pg.
ID 169.) Zakaria began his employment in Beta's shipping
and receiving department but Beta later transferred him to
its quality lab. (See Zakaria Dep. at 16, ECF #14-4
at Pg. ID 174.)
his time at MNP, Zakaria suffered from a thyroid condition.
(See Id. at 33, 43, ECF #14-4 at Pg. ID 179-80.) In
May and June of 2015, Zakaria needed to attend medical
appointments due to his thyroid condition. To ensure that he
would be able to receive time off to attend these
appointments, he asked his direct supervisor, James Eggleton
(“Eggleton”), for the paperwork necessary to
request leave under the FMLA. (See Id. at 26-28, ECF
#14-4 at Pg. ID 177.) But Eggleton did not respond to Zakaria
“in a timely fashion.” (Eggleton Dep. at 17, ECF
#14-2 at Pg. ID 164).
18, 2015, Zakaria emailed Jim Dennis (“Dennis”),
Beta's plant manager, to request the FMLA paperwork that
Eggleton failed to provide him. (See Zakaria Dep. at
28-29, ECF #14-4 at Pg. ID 177-78; June 18 email, ECF
#14-14.) In the email, Zakaria told Dennis that “with
the health problems [I] have been having[, ] [I] am worried
about losing my job.” (June 18 email, ECF #14-14.) When
Dennis received Zakaria's email, he did not know anything
about the health problems that Zakaria may have had, and he
did not ask Zakaria any questions about those problems
because he did not regard the problems as his
“business.” (Dennis Dep. at 30, ECF #14-13 at Pg.
ID 222.) Dennis did send Zakaria the FMLA paperwork. (See
Id. at 31, ECF #14-13 at Pg. ID 222.) However, as
detailed below, Zakaria never had the opportunity to submit
the completed FMLA paperwork.
early 2015, Beta's leadership decided that the company
was overstaffed. (See Id. at 22-23, ECF #14-13 at
Pg. ID 220.) During a management meeting, Beta's
President, Scott Bernstein (“Bernstein”), and
another senior official, Greg Barber (“Barber”),
discussed the overstaffing with Beta's managers. (See
id.). This discussion did not focus on specific units of
the company. (See Id. at 23-24.) Instead, it was
“more of a generic we have too much head count.”
the meeting, Dennis took the lead in reducing Beta's head
count, and he involved Anne Ventimiglio-Esser
(“Ventimiglio-Esser”), MNP's Vice President
of Human Resources, in that process. (See Id. at
24-26, ECF #14-13 at Pg. ID 220-21.) During a meeting with
Ventimiglio-Esser at her office in Utica, Dennis and
Ventimiglio-Esser discussed the “parameters” for
the reduction in force. (Id. at 24-5, ECF #14-13 at
Pg. ID 220-21.) They decided that attendance would be the
sole criteria considered when determining which employees
would be let go. (See Dennis Dep. at 25, ECF #14-13
at Pg. ID 221; Ventimiglio-Esser Dep. at 8, ECF #14-19 at Pg.
ID 241.) Simply put, they decided to fire the employees with
the worst attendance record.
says that she then used MNP's “time program”
to create a spreadsheet showing the active employees with
“the highest attendance points” (the
“Selection Document”). (Ventimiglio-Esser Dep. at
22-23, ECF #14-19 at Pg. ID 244.) The Selection Document that
Ventimiglio-Esser claims she created is attached as Exhibit B
to MNP's reply brief. (See Id. at 22-23, ECF
14-19 at Pg. ID 22-23; Def.'s Reply Br., ECF #16 at Pg.
ID 277, confirming that Exhibit B is the Selection Document
referenced by Ventimiglio-Esser.) According to
Ventimiglio-Esser, she and Dennis used the Selection Document
to identify the employees with the worst attendance record.
(See Ventimiglio-Esser Dep. at 23, 29, ECF #14-19 at
Pg. ID 244, 246.) Ventimiglio-Esser maintains that the
Selection Document identified Zakaria as one of the three MNP
employees with the worst attendance records (see Id.
at 22-23, ECF #14-19 at 244), and Dennis and
Ventimiglio-Esser insist that they decided to fire Zakaria
because he was listed among the three worst attendance
offenders on that document. (See Id. at 18-19, ECF
#14-19 at Pg. ID 243; Dennis Dep. at 27, ECF #14-13 at Pg. ID
221.) They made the decision to fire Zakaria on June 29,
2015. (Def.'s Resp. to Interrogs., ECF #14-6 at Pg. ID
described below, there is a serious question on this record
as to whether Dennis and Ventimiglio-Esser relied on the
Selection Document as they contend.
filed this action in December 2015. Zakaria asserts three
claims against MNP: (1) Unlawful termination in violation of
the ADA; (2) Unlawful termination in violation of the PWDCRA;
and (3) Unlawful interference and retaliation in violation of
the FMLA. (See Compl., ECF #1.) MNP moved for
summary judgment on November 4, 2016. (See ECF #12.)
Zakaria responded on November 28, 2016. (See ECF
#14.) The Court held a hearing on ...