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
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Debra Millen brings suit against her former employer, Oxford
Bank ("Bank"), for her alleged wrongful
termination. She alleges violation of the Family Medical
Leave Act ("FMLA"), age discrimination and age
harassment in violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act ("ADEA") and the Elliot Larsen Civil
Rights Act ("ELCRA"), and sex discrimination and
sex harassment in violation of the Civil Rights Act, Title
VII, and the ELCRA. The Bank filed a motion for summary
judgment. The Court reviewed the briefs and determined that a
hearing was unnecessary. ECF 25. For the reasons stated
below, the Court will now grant in part and deny in part the
Bank employed Millen in a number of positions from 1990 until
2015. During her tenure with the Bank, Millen was transferred
between several different branches and received several
promotions. In 2013, Millen became the Branch Manager of the
Bank's Goodrich branch. In early 2015, the Bank's CEO
David Lamb issued a strategic plan that included the goal of
becoming more productive by "[c]los[ing] uneconomical
offices-with Goodrich the only clear choice at this early
stage[.]" ECF 20-1, PgID 191. In July 2015, Millen went
on leave under the FMLA.
Millen was still on leave, Lamb sent an email to Nancy
Rosentrater, the Bank's Director of Retail Banking,
directing her "[a]s a part of the Strategic Plan . . .
to eliminate the position of branch manager for the Goodrich
branch as soon as practicable." Id. at 193. On
October 8, 2015, Millen received a "separation
agreement" from Rosentrater dated September 30, 2015.
The agreement notified Millen of the termination of the
Goodrich Branch Manager position. Heidi Huack, Goodrich's
head teller, and Rosentrater managed the Goodrich branch in
the absence of a branch manager. When the Goodrich Branch
Manager position was eliminated, the Addison Branch Manager
position was available. Several months later in March 2016,
the Bank hired Jason Howell to operate its Lake Orion branch.
The Goodrich branch's closure was effective on February
1, 2017. ECF 20-1, PgID 124. The two remaining Goodrich
branch employees were transferred to the Bank's other
16, 2016, Millen filed the present action. On March 29, 2017
after the close of discovery, the Bank filed a motion for
judgment is warranted "if the movant shows there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). A fact is "material" for purposes of summary
judgment if proof of that fact would establish or refute an
essential element of the cause of action or defense.
Kendall v. Hoover Co., 751 F.2d 171, 174 (6th Cir.
1984). A dispute over material facts is “genuine”
"if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In
order to show that a fact is, or is not, genuinely disputed,
both parties are required to either "cite to
particular parts of materials in the record" or
"show that the materials cited do not establish the
absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the
fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). In considering a motion
for summary judgment, the Court must view the facts and draw
all reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. 60 Ivy St. Corp. v. Alexander, 822
F.2d 1432, 1435 (6th Cir. 1987).
amended complaint alleges the following: violation of the
FMLA, 29 U.S.C. § 2601; age discrimination and
harassment in violation of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 621,
and ELCRA, Mich. Comp. Laws § 37.2101; and sex
discrimination and harassment in violation of the 1991 Civil
Rights Act, Pub. L. No. 102-166, 105 Stat 1071, Title VII,
and the ELCRA.
federal claims are analyzed primarily under a burden-shifting
framework. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411
U.S. 792 (1973); see, e.g., Donald v. Sybra, Inc.,
667 F.3d 757, 761-62 (6th Cir. 2012) (recognizing application
of McDonnell Douglas to FMLA retaliation and
interference claims). First, the plaintiff must make a prima
facie showing. Once it is established, the defendant must
offer a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse
employment action. If a reason is shown, the plaintiff then
carries the burden of showing by a preponderance of the
evidence that the defendant's proffered reason is merely
a pretext. At each stage, the Court must consider whether
there is sufficient evidence to create a genuine dispute of
material fact. See Jackson v. VHS Detroit Receiving
Hosp., Inc., 814 F.3d 769, 776 (6th Cir. 2016).
Family Medical Leave Act Claims
Sixth Circuit recognizes two theories for recovery under the
FMLA. Hoge v. Honda of Amer. Mfg., Inc., 384 F.3d
238, 244 (6th Cir. 2004). The first theory, the
"entitlement" or "interference" theory,
involves an employer's unlawful interference with any
right provided by the FMLA. 29 U.S.C. § 2615(a)(1). The
second theory, the "retaliation" or
"discrimination" theory, involves an employer's
discrimination against an individual for opposing an
employer's violation of the FMLA. Id. at §
2615(a)(2). Plaintiff's claims fail under both theories.
Millen fails to make a prima facie showing of FMLA
interference because the Bank did not deny her FMLA ...