United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
STEPHEN D. SOMMERVILL Plaintiff,
SCHENKER, INC., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Stephen Sommerville filed a complaint alleging that his
former employer, Defendant Schenker, Inc.
("Schenker"), violated the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act ("ADEA"), the Michigan Elliot Larsen
Civil Rights Act ("ELCRA"), and the Family and
Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"). ECF 1. On May 12, 2017,
Schenker filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF 21. The
Court reviewed the briefs and finds that a hearing is
unnecessary. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f). For the reasons below, the
Court will grant Schenker's motion.
Sommerville worked for Schenker, and its predecessors, for
more than thirty-five years. In January 2013, Schenker
offered Sommerville the position as a Global Account Manager
("GAM"). ECF 21-2, PgID 126; ECF 21-4, PgID 190.
For several months, Sommerville fulfilled his
responsibilities in his old role as an International Services
Manager and for his new role as a GAM, until he assumed full
responsibility of his role as a GAM in April 2013. ECF 21-2,
PgID 126. For about one year as a GAM, Sommerville reported
to Rhonda Janzewski. Id. In May of 2014, Schenker
hired Randall Creel. Creel's responsibilities included
supervision of Sommerville and Schenker's other GAMs:
G.K. Girish and Tim Horton.
3, 2014, Sommerville notified Schenker that he required a
medical leave of absence after a scheduled hernia surgery. On
July 7, 2014, Schenker's leave of absence administrator
confirmed Sommerville's leave for July 8-16, 2014 and
subsequently extended his leave until July 21, 2014.
Sommerville returned to work on July 22, 2014.
October 2014, Schenker tasked Daniel Bergman-Senior Vice
President, Key Account Management and Sales for the Region
Americas-with reducing the number of positions in the
company. ECF 21-16, PgID 289. Schenker terminated
Sommerville's position on November 7, 2014 citing the
company's reduction in workforce. ECF 21-9, PgID
Bergman testified that he relied upon data from the Key
Account Management database and the GAM's future sales
opportunities, in particular the "best and few"
data from Schenker's salesforce.com database. The
database generates "best and few" data based on the
GAM's inputs of future business opportunities with the
highest potential to materialize into future business for
Schenker. After the termination of Schenker's GAM
position, Schenker transferred the Lear account to Creel.
Later, Horton assumed the responsibilities of the Lear
Court may grant summary judgment "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 the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. 60 Ivy St. Corp. v.
Alexander, 822 F.2d 1432, 1435 (6th Cir. 1987).
complaint alleges age discrimination in violation of the
ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the ELCRA, Mich.
Comp. Laws § 37.2101, and retaliatory termination in
violation of the FMLA, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.
Court will analyze the claims 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, 762 (6th Cir. 2012)
(recognizing application of McDonnell Douglas to FMLA
claims). First, the plaintiff must make a prima facie
showing. Once that 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. Jackson v. VHS Detroit Receiving Hosp.,
Inc., 814 F.3d 769, 776 (6th Cir. 2016).
prevention statutes bar employers from discharging or
discriminating against employees based on age. 29 U.S.C.
§ 623; Mich. Comp. Laws. § 37.2202. Discrimination
may be shown by either direct or indirect evidence. Direct
evidence is evidence that, "if believed, requires the
conclusion that unlawful discrimination was at least a
motivating factor in the employer's actions."
Lautermilch v. Findlay City Schs., 314 F.3d 271,
275-76 (6th Cir. 2003). Because there is no direct evidence,
the Court must apply the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting
framework.Geiger v. Tower Auto., 579 F.3d
614, 621 (6th Cir. 2009). And Sommerville relies upon
circumstantial evidence to support his age discrimination
claims. Therefore, the Court will analyze both federal and
state law claims under McDonnell Douglas's
presents two events as evidence of age discrimination: the
termination of his GAM position and Schenker's failure to
provide him an opportunity to ...