United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ANGELO J. MAROTTA, Plaintiff,
FORD MOTOR CO., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 17)
CARAM STEEH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Angelo J. Marotta alleges two counts of retaliation, under
Title VII (Count I) and Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil
Rights Act (ELCRA) (Count II), against his employer,
defendant Ford Motor Company. This matter is presently before
the Court on Ford's motion for summary judgment. (Doc.
17). Oral argument was held on July 13, 2017. For the reasons
stated below, Ford's motion is GRANTED.
Marotta began working for Ford on August 2, 1976. Mr. Marotta
served as chairman of the Brownstown UAW Unit from 2005
through 2011. During his tenure, Mr. Marotta handled
grievances for Ford employees, including his wife, Alanna
Marotta. He maintained grievance files that contained
personal identifying information (PII) including hourly
employees' names, Social Security numbers, home
addresses, and home phone numbers.
Marotta filed a grievance in 2006 that was ultimately
unsuccessful. She thereafter initiated medical leave and
filed multiple EEOC charges. In 2014, Mrs. Marotta filed suit
against Ford and three of its employees in this Court. On
March 19, 2015, Mr. Marotta was deposed for his wife's
lawsuit. (Doc. 18-1 at PageID 335). In April 2015, Mrs.
Marotta purportedly asked Mr. Marotta to deliver a folder of
documents to her attorney, Jeffrey Burg. These documents
contained PII of approximately 120 Ford employees. (Doc. 18-3
at PageID 414). Mr. Marotta claims that he did not know what
information was contained in the folder. (Doc. 17-2 at PageID
140). Ford asserts that Burg showed Ford these documents on
April 16, 2015, at which time discovery had concluded. (Doc.
8-5 at PageID 480). Ford further claims that Burg did not
provide Ford with copies of these documents until April 23,
asserts that this is the first time that it became aware that
any documents produced by Mrs. Marotta contained PII. Upon
this realization, Ford's counsel forwarded the documents
to Brownstown HR Manager Mary Carol Moody. Moody determined
that the documents contained private PII and should not have
been accessible to Mrs. Marotta. Ford became suspicious of
Mr. Marotta because he delivered the documents to Burg and
had access to these types of documents containing PII as UAW
Chairperson. Moody and Jennifer Cavill interviewed Mr.
Marotta in the Labor Relations Office on May 7, 2015. (Doc.
17-2 at PageID 63-66). Mr. Marotta stated that Mrs. Marotta
acquired the documents that he delivered to Burg from Mr.
Marotta, CAC binders,  supervisors, other employees, and the
region. (Doc. 17-2 at PageID 179).
asked Mr. Marotta to return the documents containing PII.
(Doc. 17-2 at PageID 181). Mr. Marotta responded that the
documents were in Burg's possession or within the CAC
binders stored in the Marotta's home. (Id.). Mr.
Marotta agreed to return home, search for documents
containing PII, and, if he found any such documents, return
them to Ford. (Id.). Moody suspended Mr. Marotta
pending further investigation. (Doc. 18-3 at PageID 416).
Marotta filed a charge with the EEOC on May 14, 2015. He
thereafter asked Mrs. Marotta to obtain copies of the
documents containing PII that were stored at Burg's
office. (Doc. 17-2 at PageID 156). Mrs. Marotta furnished Mr.
Marotta with copies, which he provided to the EEOC,
(id.), and two attorneys, (Doc. 17-2 at 160).
May 12, 2015 and May 27, 2015, Ford made six demands to Mr.
Marotta that he return the documents containing PII. (Doc.
18-5 at PageID 491-525). Mr. Marotta did not return the
documents. Ford learned that Mr. Marotta had obtained copies
from Burg and shared them with the E.E.O.C. and two
attorneys. (Doc. 18-3 at PageID 418). Ford ultimately filed
an emergency motion to compel the return of all originals and
copies of the documents containing PII. Ford also notified
its employees about the compromised PII and provided credit
insurance in case identity theft results in monetary losses.
(Doc. 18-3 at PageID 414).
continued to investigate. She located the CAC files and
discovered that the Marottas had two CAC booklets; one from
2009 and one from 2010. (Doc. 18-3 at PageID 416). Moody
compared the CAC documents to the documents that Burg
provided on April 23, 2015 and concluded that, while some of
the Burg documents appeared in the CAC folders, others did
not. (Doc. 18-3 at PageID 417). Moody concluded that Mr.
Marotta's failure to cooperate and return the documents
mandated discharge. (Doc. 18-3 at PageID 419). Moody
consulted with two Ford managers who concurred with her
conclusion. (Doc. 18-3 at PageID 418). On June 25, 2015,
Moody informed Mr. Marotta of his discharge, which was
effective as of May 7, 2015. (Doc. 18-3 at PageID 419).
Marotta filed a grievance on June 29, 2015, and a NLRB charge
on September 29, 2015. On September 8, 2015, the EEOC advised
Mr. Marotta that it was dismissing his charge, stating that
Mr. Marotta was “suspended for a
legitimate-non-discriminatory reason, violation of
confidential and personal data. When your employer
interviewed you regarding this breach of information, you
admitted partial responsibility for some of the most
offending documents . . . . You have not returned any
documents, nor have you signed an affidavit provided to you
confirming that you had not further disseminated the
documents.” (Doc. 17-4 at PageID 323). The NLRB
dismissed Mr. Marotta's charge on November 2, 2015. (Doc.
17-4 at PageID 326). Mr. Marotta filed the instant lawsuit on
December 9, 2015. (Doc. 1).
Marotta continued to pursue an internal grievance under the
Ford-UAW Collective Bargaining Agreement grievance procedure.
He claimed that his employment discharge did not satisfy the
CBA contractual standard for just cause. A hearing was
conducted on February 21, 2017 and accompanied by
post-hearing briefs by Ford and UAW Local Union 600. (Doc.
25-2 at PageID 732). The Umpire evaluated whether there was
just cause for Mr. Marotta's discharge. (Doc. 25-2 at
PageID 743). On May 2, 2017, Umpire Charles F. Ammeson
ordered Mr. Marotta reinstated from his May 2015 misconduct
discharge with back pay and an expunged disciplinary record.
(Doc. 25-2 at PageID 761).
56(c) empowers a court to render summary judgment “if
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that 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.” Williams v. Mehra, 186 F.3d
685, 689 (6th Cir. 1999) (en banc) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)). The standard for determining whether summary judgment
is appropriate 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.'” Amway Distrib. Benefits
Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323 F.3d 386, 390 (6th
Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). Mere allegations or denials in
the non-movant's pleadings will not meet this burden, nor
will a mere scintilla of evidence supporting the non-moving
party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 252. There must
instead be evidence from which a jury could reasonably find
for the non-movant. McLean v. 988011 Ontario, Ltd.,