United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DOC. 18]
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Deano Williams filed this civil rights case against his
employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and
the Michigan Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. His complaint
alleges racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation by
defendants Liberty Park of America, the Dugout and Mary
Zolno. The matter is before the court on defendants'
motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below,
defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.
Williams is an African American man who was hired to work as
a security guard for Liberty Park of America, an outdoor
baseball and softball facility. Williams was hired as a
short-term seasonal employee to work outside security at the
venue. Work schedules were posted one week in advance. When
he applied for the position, Williams committed to being
available to work full-time.
was hired, Williams was provided with Liberty's Hourly
Employee Information Guide (the “Handbook”). The
Handbook informs employees that excessive absenteeism is
grounds for immediate termination. (Handbook at 5-6). The
Handbook allows 3 absences a year, even with a phone call,
before termination can occur. The Handbook also provides the
employer's policy regarding discrimination and sets forth
the procedure employees should follow if they feel they have
been discriminated against. (Handbook at 2-4).
… Consequently, if you feel discriminated against or
harassed (sexually or otherwise) by someone who is not a
Liberty Park employee, but with whom you must interact as
part of your duties and responsibilities, you should
immediately report your concerns in accordance with the
complaint procedure described below .....
If you believe you may have been discriminated against or
harassed in violation of Liberty Park's Policy on Equal
Employment Opportunity, you should report your concerns
immediately to your supervisor, any other manager or
supervisor, or a Vice President. . . .
If you are not entirely satisfied with how your complaint
and/or concerns have been handled, please notify, in
writing, as soon as possible, Liberty Park's
attorneys … so that the matter can be
(Handbook at 3-4). The Handbook identifies Mary Zolno as Vice
President and the only staff member that can authorize any
change or deviation from the listed policies. (Handbook at
his employment, which began April 11, 2014 and ended on
October 9, 2014, Williams called in absent eight times. In
the last month before his termination alone he called in four
times. Williams was purportedly terminated for excessive
absenteeism. The decision to terminate Williams was made by
Dave Furman, who was the Chief of Security and is Caucasian.
(Dave Furman Aff).
his termination, Williams met with Mary Zolno. He explained
that he had endured racial discrimination and harassment by
patrons and she offered him his job back. According to
Williams, he told Zolno he would consider returning to his
job and was given a start date, but ultimately he did not
accept the position because he did not want to return to an
environment that caused him so much stress. According to
Zolno, she told Williams that any further call offs on his
part would require documentation or lead to termination, and
Williams agreed that was fair and was placed on the schedule.
After he did not report for work, nor call off, on his first
two scheduled days, he was considered to have voluntarily
contends that throughout his employment at Liberty Park he
was subjected to racial slurs and threats by patrons. In his
job as a security guard, Williams occasionally had to eject
drunk, unruly patrons from the ballpark. On June 17, 2014,
Williams was escorting a patron to the parking lot when the
patron made a racial epithet toward him and told him,
“I have some hollow points for your ass, ” which
he considered to be a threat on his life. Williams told his
manager, Dave Smigiel, about the incident and contends that
he asked Smigiel to call the police. Williams provided a
written report of the incident to Smigiel. (Id. at
46). According to Williams, Smigiel did not call the police
and told Williams to report back to his post. (Williams dep.
46-47). Smigiel did call the player and his team manager, and
suspended the player from the park for the rest of the
made a police report about the June threat on his life on
October 19, 2014, four months after the incident, and after
he stopped working at Liberty Park. He alleges that the
reason he delayed making the police report was because he was
not able to obtain the name of the perpetrator who threatened
to kill him until that time.
refers to one other incident, which occurred in July of 2014
while plaintiff was escorting an intoxicated white player out
of the park because he was involved in a fight. The player
made racist comments to plaintiff, which were allegedly heard
by his manager, Dave Furman. According to plaintiff, Furman