United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ELIZABETH A. STAFFORD, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
DISMISS , GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DECLARATORY RELIEF, AND
J. Tarnow, Senior United States District Judge.
Rudolph, a United States Army veteran, worked in Custodial
Operations at Wayne State University for approximately 14
years, until he was fired on February 24, 2015. Almost
immediately after being discharged, Rudolph requested a
hearing pursuant to the Michigan Veterans Preference Act
(“MVPA”), which limits the circumstances in which
veterans may be dismissed from public employment jobs.
Defendants - Custodial Operations supervisors, members of the
Wayne State Board of Governors, and the President of Wayne
State University - refused to hold the hearing.
argues that Defendants violated the MVPA and the due process
clause of the 14th Amendment by depriving him of
his constitutionally protected property interest in
employment. He seeks reinstatement to his employment;
declaratory relief indicating that he cannot be terminated
absent a hearing and that the failure to provide such a
hearing constitutes a continued due process violation; and
damages from the former Director and Associate Director of
Custodial Operations, Defendants Sheryl Lloyd and Donald
Wrench, who are sued in their individual capacities.
reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
[Dkt. 17] is DENIED. Plaintiff's Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment, Declaratory Relief, and
Reinstatement  is GRANTED IN PART. All
claims pertaining to Defendant Diane Sevigny-Lefebvre are
began having problems at work in May 2010, when he was issued
a written reprimand for poor performance and failure to
follow instructions. See Dkt. 1-2, Pg. ID 21-22. Two
years later, in May 2012, Rudolph was suspended for one day.
Additional, longer suspensions followed in April and May
incident that occurred on January 26, 2015 seems to be the
straw that broke the camel's back. On that day, Anthony
McKinnon, Rudolph's supervisor, noticed that Rudolph was
not at his work area at the designated start time. An
investigative interview was held on February 13, 2015.
Rudolph explained that he'd left his work area without
permission because he needed to get his work equipment from
his car. Id. The Associate Director of Custodial
Operations, Defendant Sheryl Lloyd, rejected Rudolph's
explanation because he was absent from his work area for an
extended period of time. Id. She terminated Rudolph
effective February 24, 2015.
days later, Rudolph wrote to Governor Snyder, requesting
“a meaningful termination hearing.” Dkt. 1-3. On
March 25, 2015, Rudolph, through counsel, wrote to Governor
Snyder a second time, again asking for a Veterans Preference
hearing. That same day, the Governor's Office contacted
Rudolph and informed him that the Governor was not
responsible for facilitating the hearing. Rudolph's
lawyer then delivered to Defendants a written request for a
Veterans Preference Hearing and a copy of Rudolph's
correspondence with the Governor. Counsel for Wayne State
responded to Rudolph on March 30, 2015. She directed Rudolph
to pursue his remedies through union representatives and
through the grievance process outlined in the Collective
Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between
Rudolph's union and Wayne State.
to a document signed by A.L. Rainey, Jr., the Wayne State
University Director of Labor Relations, on May 21, 2015,
Rudolph was not eligible for appeal to arbitration because
any appeal efforts would be untimely. See Pl.'s
Ex. K. Rudolph filed his Complaint  approximately two
years later, on March 27, 2017.
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
move for dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), which requires the Court to “assume the
veracity of [the plaintiff's] well-pleaded factual
allegations and determine whether the plaintiff is entitled
to legal relief as a matter of law.” McCormick v.
Miami Univ., 693 F.3d 654, 658 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)).
“To survive a motion to dismiss, [plaintiff] must
allege ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Traverse Bay Area
Intermediate Sch. Dist. v. Mich. Dep't of Educ., 615
F.3d 622, 627 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
argue that Plaintiff has failed to establish the existence of
a constitutionally protected property interest. They also
contend that Wayne State is not subject to the MVPA and that
the MVPA provides no cause of action against individuals.
Finally, Defendants claim that Plaintiff's due process
rights were protected under the terms of the Collective
Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) that governed his
employment with Wayne State.
Wayne State University is subject to the MVPA.
note that Plaintiff has not named Wayne State as a defendant
in this matter. Even if he had, however, Defendants argue
that Wayne State is not subject to the MVPA.
case law - in which courts have held that public universities
are public employers for the purposes of other labor laws -
suggests otherwise. For example, in Peters v. Michigan
State College, 320 Mich. 243, 250-51 (1948), the
Michigan Supreme Court held that Michigan State College was
subject to the provisions of the Michigan Workmen's
Compensation Act because the Act did “not undertake to
change or disturb the educational activities of” the
College. Id. at 250. Rather, it was “enacted
to promote the general welfare of the people of this
State.” Id. at 250-51. The College, the court
explained, did not have the authority to “disturb[ ]
the general relationship in this State of employer and
employee.” Id. at 250. Similarly, in
Regents of University of Michigan v. Michigan
Employment Relations Commission, 389 Mich. 96,
104 (1973), the Michigan Supreme Court determined that the
University of Michigan was a public employer within the
meaning of the Public Employees Relations Act
(“PERA”). The court defined the university as
a public body corporate deriving its being from the people,
and is supported by the people, and the regents, who are