United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (DOC. 16)
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sherri Mullins, a Registered Nurse, retired after sixteen
years of employment with defendant Healthsource Saginaw, Inc.
(“Healthsource”), a rehabilitation/recovery
hospital, after she was allegedly assaulted by a nurses'
aide and was dissatisfied with management's response to
the incident. Plaintiff's Complaint alleges retaliation
under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”),
and pleads four supplemental state law claims. Having
demonstrated that there is no genuine issue of material fact
with regard to plaintiff's only federal claim, namely her
FMLA retaliation claim, the court shall grant defendants'
motion for summary judgment and shall decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law
began work for HealthSource in 1999 as a billing clerk. (Doc.
16, Ex. 2 at 30). Around 2004, after receiving the
appropriate licensing, Mullins began working as a Registered
Nurse for Healthsource. Id. at Ex. 3. In 2011,
during her performance evaluation, Mullins stated her intent
to retire in about four years. Id.at Ex. 4. On
Friday, May 15, 2015, Mullins alleges she was assaulted by
defendant Barbara Logan, a nurse's aide, who is about
6'3” tall and 275 pounds, who allegedly cornered
her in a patient's bathroom and would not allow her to
leave. (Doc. 16, Ex. 2 at 82-83, Ex. 6 at 2; Doc. 18, Ex. A).
Mullins alleges Logan grabbed her arms and pushed her. (Doc.
16, Ex. 2 at 82-83, Doc. 18, Ex. A). Because the incident
occurred in a patient's bathroom, there were no
eyewitnesses to the incident. (Doc. 16, Ex. 8 at ¶ 5).
On Saturday, May 16, 2015, Miller reported the incident to
her employer by submitting a variance/concern report.
Id. at Ex. 7. On Monday, May 18, 2015, Mullins had
the day off work and went to the Saginaw County Sheriff's
Department and filed a police report against
Logan. Id. at Ex. 6. According to the
Sheriff's report, there was no visible injury.
Id. at Ex. 6 at 3. The next day, Tuesday, May 19,
2015, Logan presented a doctor's note to her employer
stating that she was to be placed off work for six weeks
because of anxiety and stress. (Doc. 18, Ex. B). Healthsource
approved her request for FMLA leave from May 19, 2015 through
June 29, 2015. Id. at Ex. C.
she was on medical leave, Mullins alleges that Healthsource
allegedly did nothing to address the situation regarding the
alleged assault by Logan. (Doc. 16, Ex. 2 at 123-125). On
June 1, 2015, Healthsource's Human Resources Director,
Krystal Tebedo, telephoned Mullins, who was off on medical
leave and thus, could not be interviewed in person, at her
home to discuss the alleged incident. Id. at Ex. 8
at ¶¶ 3-4. Tebedo told Mullins to fill out another
form regarding the incident, this one framed as a
discrimination/harassment/ disruptive complaint form.
Id. at Ex. 2 at 110. Frustrated and perceiving that
no action had been taken regarding the incident, on June 3,
2015, Mullins informed Tebedo in person of her intent to
retire effective as of June 30, 2015. Id. at Ex. 2
at 98. When she tendered her notice of intent to retire, just
a little over two weeks had passed since the alleged assault.
At the same time that she tendered her notice of intent to
retire effective June 30, 2015, Mullins submitted the
required discrimination/harassment/disruptive complaint form.
Id. at Ex. 8 at ¶ 11. According to Tebedo's
affidavit, during her discussion with Mullins on June 3,
2015, she explained to Mullins that depending on the results
of their investigation, consequences for Logan could run the
gamut from simple retraining up to and including termination.
Id. at Ex. 8 at ¶ 13. Mullins was paid for the
remainder of May and June, 2015. Id. at Ex. 2 at 98.
of Healthsource's investigation of the May 15, 2015
incident, Tebedo met with Logan who denied grabbing Mullins
but admitted she may have touched her on the arm.
Id. at Ex. 8 at ¶ 8. Tebedo also discussed the
incident with Detective Benicki with the Saginaw
Sheriff's Department on June 10, 2015, who informed her
that the prosecuting attorney denied authorization of any
criminal charges based on the claims made by Mullins against
Logan. Id. at Ex. 8 at ¶ 16.
April 7, 2016, Mullins filed her five-count Complaint in this
case. The first three counts are against Healthcare as the
employer and the last two counts are against Logan
individually. Count I alleges Healthsource retaliated against
her for taking FMLA leave by asserting that she was allegedly
constructively discharged. Count II alleges age
discrimination in violation of the Michigan Elliott-Larsen
Civil Rights Act. Count III alleges wrongful discharge in
violation of Michigan Public Policy. Count IV alleges assault
and battery. Count V alleges false imprisonment. Defendants
seek summary judgment on all claims.
Standard of Law
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) empowers the court to render
summary judgment "forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." See Redding v. St. Eward, 241 F.3d 530,
532 (6th Cir. 2001). The Supreme Court has affirmed the
court's use of summary judgment as an integral part of
the fair and efficient administration of justice. The
procedure is not a disfavored procedural shortcut.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986);
see also Cox v. Kentucky Dep't of Transp., 53
F.3d 146, 149 (6th Cir. 1995).
standard for determining whether summary judgment is
appropriate is "'whether the evidence presents a
sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or
whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law.'" Amway Distributors Benefits
Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323 F.3d 386, 390 (6th
Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The evidence and all reasonable
inferences must be construed in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986);
Redding, 241 F.3d at 532 (6th Cir. 2001).
"[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in
original); see also National Satellite Sports, Inc. v.
Eliadis, Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th Cir. 2001).
movant establishes by use of the material specified in Rule
56(c) that there is no genuine issue of material fact and
that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the
opposing party must come forward with "specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S.
253, 270 (1968); see also McLean v. 988011 Ontario,
Ltd., 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). Mere
allegations or denials in the non-movant's pleadings will
not meet this burden, nor will a mere scintilla of evidence
supporting the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248, 252. Rather, there must be evidence on which a jury
could reasonably find for the non-movant. McLean,
224 F.3d at 800 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).
FMLA Retaliation Standard of Law
court first analyzes Mullins' FMLA retaliation claim
against Healthsource, the only federal claim pending before
the court. The FMLA prohibits retaliation and provides that
it shall be unlawful for an employer to “discharge or
in any other manner discriminate against any individual for
opposing any practice made unlawful by [the FMLA].” 29
U.S.C. § 2615(a)(2). The regulations further provide
that an employer is prohibited from discriminating against
employees who have used FMLA leave, and “employers
cannot use the taking of FMLA leave as a negative factor in
employment actions.” 29 C.F.R. § 825.220(c). The
FMLA requires an employer to reinstate an employee who has
taken FMLA leave to her prior position or to an equivalent
position upon her return. 29 U.S.C. § 2614(a)(1). A
claim of FMLA retaliation may be proven by direct or indirect