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Pettinato v. Professional Parent Care

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

July 10, 2017

PROFESSIONAL PARENT CARE, a Michigan Corporation, et al., Defendants.


          GERSHWIN A. DRAIN United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         On February 2, 2017, Allison Pettinato (“Plaintiff”) filed an amended complaint for damages against Professional Parent Care (“PPC”), a Michigan company, Sanford Linden (“Linden”), and Morris Huppert (“Huppert”). Plaintiff asserts that all three Defendants violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Presently before the Court is Linden's Motion for Partial Dismissal. This matter is fully briefed and a hearing is scheduled for July 17, 2017. Upon review of the parties' submissions, the Court concludes that oral argument will not aid in the disposition of this matter. Accordingly, the Court will cancel the hearing and resolve the instant motion on the briefs. See E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Linden's Motion for Partial Dismissal.

         II. Factual Background

         On October 14, 2015, Plaintiff began her employment as a Direct Service Provider (“caregiver, ”) for Defendant PPC, a home health care provider. Pl.'s Compl. Pg. ID 41. A caregiver's duty is to provide personal care to PPC's clients and assist them through daily living activities. Pg ID 40. Defendant Linden is the owner/CEO of PPC.

         On November 9, 2015, Linden assigned Plaintiff to the home of Defendant Huppert, an elderly man. Id. at Pg ID 41. Neither Linden nor anyone at PPC informed Plaintiff that Huppert has a history of sexual harassment towards his caregiver. Id. at Pg ID 56. Almost immediately upon the start of her service at the Huppert home, Huppert repeatedly kissed and hugged the Plaintiff. Id. at Pg ID 41-42. Huppert also grabbed the Plaintiff's breasts and buttocks. Id. Huppert continued these actions despite clear objections by the Plaintiff. Id. at Pg ID 43. On November 19, 2015, Plaintiff reported Huppert's conduct to her PPC supervisor. Id. The supervisor relayed the report to Linden. Id.

         However, Plaintiff's assignment at Huppert's home was not changed. Id. at Pg ID 44. During her shift at Huppert's home on November 28, 2015, Huppert informed the Plaintiff that he has a personal relationship with Linden and that he could have her fired if he wanted. Id. On or about December 1, 2015, Huppert offered the Plaintiff money for sexual favors. Id. at Pg ID 46. He then told her that he made similar arrangements with his previous caregivers. Id. The following day, Plaintiff told PPC's manager that she would not be returning to Huppert's home and that she wanted to meet with Linden to discuss the inappropriate conduct she had endured working for PPC in the Huppert home. Id. at Pg ID 48.

         Linden thereafter contacted Plaintiff by phone to discuss why she did not want to go back to the Huppert home. Id. When Plaintiff informed Linden began to explain why she did not want to return to the Huppert home, Linden interrupted her and said, “I assume this is about the inappropriate touching.” Id. at Pg ID 48-49. Linden explained “that there were a few complaints” about Huppert's conduct from other former PPC employees from over “one-half years” ago. Id. at Pg ID 49.

         Following that conversation, Plaintiff met with Linden to discuss in detail the harassment she was enduring at the Huppert home. Id. After Plaintiff was finished, Linden assured her that she would not be losing her job; he would investigate the situation and would report his findings to her; and that he would transfer her to another PPC facility (Pine Ridge) where she would retain her fulltime hours. Id. Linden also told Plaintiff that she was being considered for a promotion to a managerial position with PPC. Id. at Pg ID 50.

         Several days after their meeting however, Linden informed the Plaintiff that she was not being considered as a candidate for the managerial position. Id. Additionally Plaintiff's full-time schedule was reduced to nine hours per week. Id. at Pg ID 54. Plaintiff was also removed from a client's home without an explanation. Id. at Pg ID 53. Plaintiff tried to reach Linden regarding these issues, but Linden never returned her calls. Id. at Pg ID 54-55.

         Plaintiff ultimately experienced an anxiety attack as a result of these circumstances. Id. at Pg ID 53. She was hospitalized and treated for emotional distress. Id. Plaintiff's hospitalization resulted in her involuntary and/or constructive discharge from her employment with PPC. Id. at Pg ID 55. Huppert remained a client of PPC and sexually assaulted his next caregiver who was assigned by Linden. Id. at Pg ID 56-57.

         Plaintiff filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, which provided her with a right to sue letter. Id. at Pg ID 40. Plaintiff then timely filed the instant civil rights lawsuit alleging: Count I (sexual harassment and/or discrimination or retaliation in violation of Title VII); Count II (unlawful retaliation for engaging in protected activity under Title VII); Count III (violation of Title VII - hostile work environment); and Count IV (violation of the Michigan Elliot-Larson Civil Rights Act). Defendant Linden moves for the dismissal of Count I, II, and III of Plaintiff's complaint. Defendant Linden argues that there is no individual liability under Title VII, therefore Counts I-III fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Def.'s Mot. for Dismissal Pg ID 125.

         III. Law & Analysis

         A. ...

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