United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (DOC. 32)
CARAM STEEH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Sheryl Emery alleges that defendant the Michigan Department
of Civil Rights, her former employer, and its employees,
defendants Matthew Wesaw and Lori Vinson, violated the
Americans with Disabilities Act and Michigan's
Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. This matter is presently
before the Court on Wesaw's and Vinson's motion for
summary judgment. (Doc. 32). Pursuant to Local Rule
7.1(f)(2), the Court shall rule without oral argument. For
the reasons stated below, defendants' motion is GRANTED.
born in 1959, is a deaf, African American women. She served
as the Director of the Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing
from November 16, 2008, to September 9, 2014. The Director
position has been filled by a deaf or hard of hearing
individual since the Division's inception. The
Division's staff is comprised of deaf and hearing
individuals; some of whom are not fluent in American Sign
Language. For several years, the Division included a staff
member who served as an interpreter. As director, plaintiff
was required to follow rules governing the MDCR's
authority, her own legal authority, and ethical standards
including Civil Service rules and the State Ethics Act.
Niven worked as a Rights Representative at the Division with
plaintiff. Niven's responsibilities included some duties
as a staff interpreter. Niven made several accusations
against plaintiff between April and May 2013. The MDCR
investigated and, in July 2013, concluded that, contrary to
Niven's complaints, plaintiff had not created a hostile
thereafter filed a complaint against Niven with the Registry
of Interpreters for the Deaf. As a result, Niven's
certification was suspended and she ceased performing
interpreter duties. Plaintiff complained about her inability
to complete her responsibilities without an interpreter on
staff. She eventually filed an EEOC charge, alleging failure
to accommodate, on this matter on July 29, 2013.
and Karlee Rose Gruetzner, another Rights Representative,
raised new complaints against plaintiff in February 2014. The
MDCR thereafter began investigating plaintiff for creating a
hostile work environment, harassment, workplace bullying,
interpreter issues, and breach of confidentiality. (Doc. 32-3
at PagelD 297). Plaintiff was placed on administration
suspension with pay pending the results of this
investigation. In May 2014, Vinson discovered that plaintiff
had created and distributed Alternative Pathways
Certification/Board Evaluation of Interpreters applications.
(Doc. 32-12 at PagelD 383). This activity was unauthorized.
The investigation concluded in September 2014. The MDCR found
that plaintiff subjected her staff to harassment, created a
hostile work environment, retaliated against her subordinate,
and implemented certification without legal authorization.
(Doc. 32-3 at PagelD 325). Plaintiff's actions violated
the MDCR's authority, her own legal authority under
Public Act 204, Civil Service rule 2-8 and the State Ethics
Act. Plaintiff was terminated on September 9, 2014.
filed a grievance to challenge her termination. (Doc. 32-6).
She alleged that she was terminated without just cause, as
she had not violated the Civil Service rules as the MDCR
claimed. She further argued that she was terminated in
retaliation for filing her EEOC charge. The MDCR denied
plaintiff's allegations and asserted that she was
terminated for violating the Civil Service rules. (Doc.
32-7). Plaintiff appealed the MDCR's answer. (Doc. 32-8).
grievance appeal hearing was held by Hearing Officer Matthew
C. Wyman on April 27, 28 and June 24, 2015. (Doc. 32-9).
Wesaw testified that plaintiff's issues with harassment,
a hostile work environment, and retaliation, in isolation
could have been corrected through lesser discipline. (Doc.
32-9 at PagelD 350). But Wesaw found plaintiff's APC
violation to be far more serious and believed that this
matter alone justified termination, as plaintiff had deceived
the MDCR while knowingly disregarding the law.
(Id.). On October 1, 2015, Wyman issued an opinion
concluding that the MDCR had just cause to terminate
plaintiff following her mistreatment of Niven and Gruetzner
as well as violating the MDCR's authority, Public Act
204, the State Ethics Act, and Civil Service rule 2-8. (Doc.
appealed. The Employment Relations Board issued a recommended
grievance decision affirming Wyman's findings on January
27, 2016. (Doc. 32-10). The Civil Service Commission adopted
the Board's recommendation as their final decision on
February 26, 2016. (Doc. 32-11). Plaintiff appealed to
Oakland County Circuit Court. On October 3, 2016, the
Honorable Martha D. Anderson issued an opinion affirming the
final decision of the Commission. (Doc. 32-12). Plaintiff
filed the instant lawsuit alleging her termination on April
56(c) empowers a court to render summary judgment "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 a judgment as a
matter of law." Williams v. Mehra, 186 F.3d
685, 689 (6th Cir. 1999) (en banc) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)). The 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 Distrib. 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)). 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. There must
instead be evidence from which a jury could reasonably find
for the non-movant. McLean, 224 F.3d at 800 (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).The evidence and all
reasonable inferences must be construed in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Bee. Indus.
Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986); Redding v. St. Eward, 241 F.3d 530, 532 (6th
Prospective Injunctive Relief
Ex Parte Young claim against state officials acting
in their official capacity may "seek prospective relief
to end a continuing violation of law." Carten v.
Kent State Univ.,282 F.3d 391, 395 (6th Cir. 2002).
Defendants assert that the only prospective injunctive relief
available to plaintiff is an "order requiring the State
to provide her a reasonable accommodation." (Doc. 32 at
PagelD 267-68). Plaintiff no longer works for the Michigan
Civil Rights Department. Defendants thus conclude that her
claim for prospective relief is moot. Defendant's