United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
STEPHANIE DAWKINS DAVIS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANT CITY OF INKSTER'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN United States District Judge.
August 1, 2016, Plaintiff Susan Beauvais
(“Plaintiff” or “Beauvais”) filed a
Complaint against the City of Inkster, Michigan
(“Defendant” or “Inkster”) and former
Inkster Police Officer Booker Snow. See Dkt. No. 1.
Plaintiff amended her Complaint on February 3, 2017.
See Dkt. No. 18. There, she alleges violations of
the following state and federal laws: violations of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) (Count
I); violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”) (Count II); violations of Michigan's
Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”) and
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 based on sexual
harassment, (Count III); and violations of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 based on retaliation (Count IV).
before the Court is Defendant Inkster's Motion for
Summary Judgment . For the reasons discussed herein, the
Court will GRANT IN PART and DENY IN PART Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment . The Court GRANTS the
Defendant's Motion as to Counts I, II and III, and DENIES
Defendant's Motion as to Count IV.
Susan Beauvais worked as a police officer for the City of
Inkster, Michigan during various periods from November 2007
until May 2017. Dkt. No. 18, p. 2 (Pg. ID 130); Dkt. 32, p.
22 (Pg. ID 1223).
Sexual Harassment Allegations
alleges that her former co-worker, Defendant Booker Snow,
sexually harassed her on several occasions. Dkt. No. 32, p.
14-15 (Pg. ID 1215-16). On April 12, 2014 Officer Snow
approached her and whispered in her ear “[y]ou're
feeling frisky aren't you?” Dkt. No. 32-25, p. 2
(Pg. ID 1396). He continued “I can take care of that,
yes I can.” Id. Four days later, on April 16,
2014, Snow approached her as she “was sitting with
[her] hands behind [her] head, ” and began
“taking pictures of her chest” with his cell
phone. Id.; see also Dkt. No. 32-24, p. 2
(Pg. ID 1394). Uncomfortable with Snow's actions,
Beauvais crossed her arms to block her chest. Dkt. No. 18, p.
12 (Pg. ID 140). Snow, however, told Beauvais to lift up her
another occasion, Snow showed Beauvais a picture of his
girlfriend and said “[m]y girl loves black cock and
white pussy, you know we really both could take care of you.
Yeah, we could make you feel good and totally relax.”
Id. Beauvais also frequently overheard Snow refer to
women with whom he lived as “ho's” and heard
him telling these women “to get naked before he got
home because he wanted to ‘be sucked.”
Report to Supervisors and Inkster's Response
orally notified her supervisors of Snow's actions on
April 16, 2014, and on April 24, 2014, she gave them a
written complaint detailing Snow's actions.Dkt. No. 32-45, p.
2 (Pg. ID 1456); Dkt. No. 18, p. 2-3 (Pg. ID 130-31).
after Beauvais reported Snow's actions, Inkster pledged
to separate Beauvais and Snow. Dkt. No. 32, p. 16-17 (Pg. IDs
1217-18). The day following Beauvais's complaint,
however, Snow remained on the same shift as Beauvais.
Id. This shift was the last one Beauvais and Snow
would work together. See Dkt. No. 32-2, p. 12 (Pg.
ID 1249); see also Dkt. No. 31, p. 16 (Pg. ID 234).
held an internal disciplinary hearing regarding
Beauvais's complaints. Dkt. No. 31, p. 36-37 (Pg. ID
254-55); Dkt. No. 32-47, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1476). The then Chief
of the Inkster Police Department, Vicki Yost, conducted the
hearing and concluded that Snow violated Inkster's sexual
harassment policies. Dkt. No. 32-47, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1476).
Because of this finding, Yost imposed on Snow a three-day
suspension: he was to pay back one day in salary, serve one
day immediately, and then serve another day if accused or
found culpable of similar conduct. Dkt. No. 31-5, p. 2 (Pg.
Inkster hired an independent law firm to investigate
Beauvais's allegations regarding Snow and whether gender
or sexual harassment issues permeated the Inkster Police
Department. Dkt. No. 31-4, p. 2 (Pg. ID 348). The law firm
interviewed Beauvais, Snow and other officers relevant to
Beauvais's allegations, and also reviewed videotape of
interactions between Beauvais and Snow. Id. It
concluded that Snow's comments to Beauvais “were
inappropriate, and could be considered sexual harassment,
warranting disciplinary action.” Id. at p. 3
(Pg. ID 349).
Resources Director LaZonja Smith ordered sexual harassment
training for the Police Department and also other Inkster
City Departments. Dkt. No. 32, p. 28-29 (Pg. ID 1229-30).
Smith testified that the training was motivated by two
considerations: (1) the City, including the police
department, had not had sexual harassment training in several
years; and (2) complaints of sexual harassment, including
Plaintiff's complaint. Dkt. No. 31-7, p. 37 (Pg. ID 424).
Request for Personal Leave
September 10, 2014, writing to Chief Yost, Beauvais requested
“an extended personal leave from work to handle some
personal issues.” Dkt. No. 32-9, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1319).
Beauvais requested leave from September 24, 2014 through
November 9, 2014. Id. She wrote that she would be
willing to take this leave as unpaid and that her
“request is solely based for the purpose to handle
pertinent personal issues/matters.” Id.
supported her request for leave with letters from two of her
doctors, Dr. Robert Klotz and Dr. George Nicoloff. Dkt. No.
31-13. Dr. Klotz's letter is dated September 8, 2014, and
addressed to Chief Yost. Id. at p. 2 (Pg. ID 587).
Klotz wrote that he examined Beauvais “for signs and
symptoms of acute work related stress, ” and that
“[a]s a result of this stress, she is suffering from a
number of physical and emotional signs and symptoms that are
typical reactions consistent with issues of personal safety,
work-related problems.” Id. Klotz explained
that her “issues are not related to being a patrol
officer on the streets”; rather, “[s]he is
stressed about Departmental issues affecting duty
performance.” Id. Likewise, Dr. Nicoloff also
addressed his letter to Chief Yost and explained that
Beauvais was “suffering from work related stress with
symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, and other stress related
symptoms.” Id. at p. 3 (Pg. ID 588).
Yost granted Beauvais's request for leave. See
Dkt. No. 31-14, p. 33 (Pg. ID 621). Inkster classified
Beauvais's temporary departure as worker's
compensation leave because Beauvais “cited it as
December 29 and December 30 of 2014, Beauvais's doctors
cleared her to return to work without restrictions.
See Dkt. No. 31-17, p. 2-3 (Pg. ID 749-50). Dr.
Klotz observed that “[Beauvais's] signs and
symptoms of Acute Work-Related Stress have evolved, and are
no longer present.” Id. at 2 (Pg. ID 749).
Similarly, Dr. Nicoloff determined that “[Beauvais] has
recovered fully and is medically cleared to return to work
full time.” Id. at 3 (Pg. ID 750).
did not immediately return to work, however, as Chief Yost
required that Beauvais undergo an independent medical
evaluation in advance of her return. Dkt. No. 31-14, p. 35,
42-43 (Pg. ID 623, 631-32). Yost testified that she required
Plaintiff to undergo an independent medical exam based on a
concern “as to whether [Beauvais] was capable of
performing her duties.” Id. at p. 35 (Pg. ID
623). Specifically, Yost testified that she was concerned for
two reasons: Beauvais's September 2014 doctors' notes
and “Inkster's liability.” Id.
underwent an independent medical evaluation and, on April 21,
2015, obtained independent medical clearance to return to
work without restrictions. Dkt. No. 31-18, p. 15-16 (Pg. ID
765-66). Yet she did not return to work until May 12, 2015.
Dkt. No. 32, p. 9, 31 (Pg. ID 1210, 1232). Human Resources
Director Smith testified that she did not know why Beauvais
did not return to work before May 12, 2015. Dkt. No. 32-12,
p. 13 (Pg. ID 1342). Smith said that although the
doctor's letter clearing Beauvais is dated April 21,
2015, she does not recall when Inkster received the letter.
Id. Smith said that Inkster may not have returned
Beauvais to work earlier because Inkster was busy defending a
lawsuit, may have encountered scheduling issues, or may have
had difficulty contacting Beauvais. Id.
requested FMLA leave on December 10, 2015. Dkt. No. 31-35, p.
2 (Pg. ID 1181). Human Resources Director Smith initially
denied Beauvais's request because Smith did not believe
that Beauvais had worked the requisite number of hours for
leave under the FMLA. Dkt. No. 32-37, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1435). On
December 11, 2015, Beauvais gave Smith evidence that she had
worked the necessary number of hours. Id. Beauvais
received approval of her FMLA leave on December 16, 2015.
Dkt. No. 31-35, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1181).
4, 2016, Beauvais was promoted to acting Sergeant. Dkt. No.
31, p. 22 (Pg. ID 240). Because of this promotion, she
received an increase in pay. Dkt. No. 31-21, p. 72 (Pg. ID
849). This was only a temporary position, however. Dkt. No.
31-6, p. 14 (Pg. ID 386). Moreover, Beauvais's promotion
was partly motivated by an injury to the then Sergeant, Linda
Davidson. Id. Davidson was placed on leave, and
therefore, could not fulfill her duties. Id.
was demoted back to police officer in December 2016 or
January 2017, and she learned of this demotion in a
wide-spread email distribution. Dkt. No. 32, p. 19-20 (Pg. ID
1220-21). At the time of Beauvais's demotion, Sergeant
Davidson had not returned to full duty, but was back to work
completing administrative tasks. Dkt. No. 31-6, p. 14 (Pg. ID
asserts that it demoted Beauvais because of budgetary
constraints. Dkt. No. 31, p. 22 (Pg. ID 240). Inkster had
exceeded its budget for overtime expenses, however, and had
paid certain officers overtime for tutoring individuals in
the police academy. See Dkt. No. 32-7, p. 6 (Pg. ID
1311); see also Dkt. No. 32-28, p. 5 (Pg. ID 1414).
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) “directs that summary
judgment shall be granted if ‘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.'” Cehrs v.
Ne. Ohio Alzheimer's Research Ctr., 155 F.3d 775,
779 (6th Cir. 1998). The court must view the facts, and draw
reasonable inferences from those facts, in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). No genuine
dispute of material fact exists where the record “taken
as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find
for the non-moving party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus.,
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The
essential inquiry 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.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.
City of Inkster asserts it is entitled to summary judgment on
all of Plaintiff's claims. See Dkt. No. 31, p.
1-2 (Pg. ID 219-20). Inkster argues that the Plaintiff does
not raise a genuine dispute of material fact regarding
whether Defendant Inkster (1) “regarded”
Plaintiff as disabled under the ADA (Count I); (2) engaged in
conduct that satisfies a prima facie case of FMLA
interference (Count II); (3) committed acts proving a
prima facie case of sexual discrimination under
Title VII or the ELCRA (Count III); and (4) retaliated
against Plaintiff in violation of Title VII (Count IV). For
Counts I, II and III, the Court finds that the Plaintiff
fails to raise a genuine dispute regarding a material fact,
and therefore, the Court will grant summary judgment as to
those Counts. For Count IV, however, the Court finds that
there is a genuine dispute of material fact that prevents
summary judgment as to that Count.
Court will first consider Beauvais's claim that the City
of Inkster regarded her as disabled because the City required
her to undergo a fitness-for-duty evaluation and delayed her
return to work. The ...