United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
F. Cox United States District Court Judge
filed this action against his former employer, alleging that
he was terminated in retaliation for having made a complaint
under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §
215 et seq. After the close of discovery, Defendant
filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court
finds that the issues have been adequately presented in the
parties' briefs and that oral argument would not aid the
decisional process. See Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), U.S.
District Court, Eastern District of Michigan. The Court
therefore orders that the motion will be decided upon the
briefs. As explained below, the Court shall GRANT the motion
because the decision-maker's knowledge of the
plaintiff's protected activity is an essential element of
a prima facie retaliation claim and Plaintiff has failed to
present either direct or circumstantial evidence that the
decision-makers who decided to terminate his employment had
knowledge of Plaintiff's verbal complaint made to others.
Jeremy Mueller filed this action against his former employer,
Defendant Nexteer Automotive Corp., asserting one claim -
“Retaliation in Violation of the Fair Labor Standards
Act, 29 U.S.C. § 215.”
the close of discovery, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment. This Court's practice guidelines, which are
expressly included in the Scheduling Order issued in this
case, provide, consistent with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c) and (e),
a. The moving party's papers shall include a separate
document entitled Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute.
The statement shall list in separately numbered paragraphs
concise statements of each undisputed material fact,
supported by appropriate citations to the record. . .
b. In response, the opposing party shall file a separate
document entitled Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts. The
counter-statement shall list in separately numbered
paragraphs following the order or the movant's statement,
whether each of the facts asserted by the moving party is
admitted or denied and shall also be supported by appropriate
citations to the record. The Counter-Statement shall also
include, in a separate section, a list of each issue of
material fact as to which it is contended there is a genuine
issue for trial.
c. All material facts as set forth in the Statement of
Material Facts Not in Dispute shall be deemed admitted unless
controverted in the Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts.
(D.E. No. 19 at 2-3).
compliance with this Court's guidelines, in support of
its Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant filed a
“Statement of Material Facts Not In Dispute”
(“Def.'s Stmt.). In response to that submission,
Plaintiff filed a “Counter-Statement of Disputed
Facts” (Pl.'s Stmt.”).
following material facts are gleaned from the evidence
submitted by the parties, viewed in the light most favorable
to Plaintiff, the non-moving party. But the facts are largely
U.S. Salaried Employee Handbook states: “Nexteer's
principles include a commitment to promoting diversity,
providing quality, ensuring health and safety, and preserving
the environment”; “Nexteer applies a company-wide
focus on quality, working toward a zero-defect goal in all
products, processes and business services”; and
“Nexteer is committed to protecting the health and
safety of each Employee, visitor and contractor.”
(Def.'s & Pl.'s Stmt. at ¶ 1).
Jeremy Mueller began working in Nexteer's Automotive
Prototype Plant as a contract employee through Dynamic
Corporation in February 2013. In July 2014, Mueller applied
for a position to work for Nexteer directly. Nexteer hired
Mueller to work as a production group leader on the second
shift, or B-shift, in August 2014. (Def.'s &
Pl.'s Stmt. at ¶¶ 2-4). After Defendant hired
Mueller as a production group leader, Defendant classified
him as a salaried-exempt employee under the FLSA.
(Id. at ¶ 5).
worked in Nexteer's Plant 6, and his immediate supervisor
was B-shift General Foreman, Richard Weigl. As a B-shift
production group leader, Mueller generally worked from 2:00
p.m. to 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. As a B-shift production group
leader, Mueller supervised employees that worked on the
production line. Mueller's job duties included ensuring
that there were enough employees to cover the shift, making
sure that the employees were filling out paperwork they were
to complete, ensuring that employees had the proper supply
and were running the proper parts, keeping management
informed of developments and issues, and “keeping a
general overview of what was going on.” (Def.'s
& Pl.'s Stmt. at ¶¶ 6-9).
ensure quality, Mueller was required to go over quality
control instructions with employees and have them initial a
document stating that Mueller went over the instructions with
them. Mueller was responsible for making sure that
Nexteer's policies were followed both by himself and the
others he supervised. (Def.'s & Pl.'s Stmt. at
U.S. Salaried Employee Handbook contains a cell phone policy
that states, “[a]ny time a cell phone is used in an
industrial environment, there is the danger that it will
cause the user to become distracted and, therefore, be at
risk for injury or accident.” Under Nexteer's cell
phone policy, cell phones are prohibited within manufacturing
areas, unless authorized by Nexteer management. Violation of
the cell phone policy may result in termination of
employment. Mueller understood that it was a violation ...