United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION & ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
F. COX UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Stephen Perkola is employed by the University of Michigan as
a Police Sergeant with the University's Police Department
at its Dearborn, Michigan campus. After he applied for and
was denied a promotion to Deputy Chief at the Dearborn
campus, he filed this action against Defendants, asserting
reverse race and sex discrimination claims under both Title
VII and Michigan's Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act
(“ELCRA”). The matter is currently before the
Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment,
following the close of discovery. The parties have fully
briefed the issues and the Court heard oral argument on March
22, 2018. As explained below, the Court shall GRANT THE
MOTION IN PART AND DENY IT IN PART. The Court shall GRANT the
motion to the extent that it grants summary judgment in
Defendants' favor as to Plaintiff's reverse sex
discrimination claims under Title VII because Plaintiff has
failed to meet his heightened burden of establishing a prima
facie case as to a reverse sex discrimination claim under
Title VII. The Court will DENY the motion in all other
respects. As such, Plaintiff's Title VII reverse race
discrimination claim, along with Plaintiff's reverse race
and sex discrimination claims under the ELCRA, will proceed
to a jury trial.
Stephen Perkola (“Plaintiff”) filed this action
on July 12, 2016. His First Amended Complaint is the
operative complaint and names the following seven Defendants:
1) the University of Michigan Board of Regents; 2) Anna
Grbic; 3) Kevin Williams; 4) Renee Mainor; 5) Reetha
Raveendran; 6) Dr. Debra Hutton; and 7) Eddie L. Washington,
Jr. Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint asserts race and
sex discrimination claims under both Title VII and
were three different scheduling orders in this case. The
final one provided that discovery closed on September 29,
2017. (D.E. No. 16).
October 30, 2017, Defendants filed this Motion for Summary
Judgment. This Court's practice guidelines are included
in the Scheduling Order and provide, consistent with
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c) and (e), that:
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. 16 at 2-3). The parties complied with the
Court's practice guidelines for motions for summary
judgment such that Defendants' motion includes a
“Statement of Material Facts Not In Dispute”
(“Defs.' “Stmt.”) and Plaintiff's
response brief includes 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.
is a white male. (Defs.' & Pl.'s Stmts. at
¶¶ 14-15). Plaintiff applied for a fulltime Police
Sergeant position at the University's Dearborn, Michigan
campus and began working for the University's Dearborn
Police Department in April of 2011. (Id. at ¶ 2
is still working as a Sergeant at the University's
Dearborn Police Department today. (Defs.' & Pl.'s
Stmts. at ¶ 10). In that position, Plaintiff supervises
two police officers, three security officers, and one
dispatcher. (Id. at ¶ 12).
Plaintiff began working at the University, he reported to Lt.
Kenneth Paris. (Id. at ¶ 30).
October of 2013, Chief Gordon retired and Lt. Paris became
Interim Chief, still acting as Plaintiff's immediate
supervisor. (Defs.' & Pl.'s Stmts. at ¶ 33).
Renee Mainor is a black female (see Defs.' Stmt.
at ¶ 3) who works in the University's Human
Resources Department. Plaintiff testified that, shortly after
Chief Gordon retired, Mainor asked Plaintiff if he knew of
any good candidates for the position of Chief, and after
Plaintiff responded affirmatively, Mainor asked Plaintiff if
he “knew of any good black candidates.”
(Defs.' & Pl.'s Stmts. at ¶ 34).
Paris applied for the Chief of Police position; however, when
he was not selected, he retired. (Defs.' & Pl.'s
Stmts. at ¶ 37).
Williams, a black male, became the Chief of Police for the
University's Dearborn Police Department in May of 2014.
(Id. at ¶ 38). Plaintiff then reported directly
to Chief Williams for approximately one month because there
was no Lieutenant or Deputy Chief. (Id. at ¶
at times, served as Interim Police Chief while the Police
Chief was gone. (James Dep. at 25-26).
after Chief Williams arrived at the Dearborn campus, he spoke
to Eddie Washington, the University's Executive Director
of Public Safety,  and Raymond Hall and Robert Neumann,
Police Chiefs at the Flint and Ann Arbor campuses,
respectively, to see if he could get help at the Dearborn
campus. (Defs.' & Pl.'s Stmts. at ¶ 42).
Williams testified that he knew, at that time, that he wanted
a deputy police chief at Dearborn. (Williams Dep. at 34-35).
James was sent to the Dearborn campus in early
2014. Williams had never met James when the decision was made
to temporarily assign her to the Dearborn campus. (Defs.'
& Pl.'s Stmts. at ¶ 45).
testified that she was told she was being sent to the
Dearborn campus because Chief Williams had requested help
with the day-to-day operations of the department and that is
what her work entailed. (James Dep. at 12-13).
testified that after James came to Dearborn, he mentored
James to help develop her to become a deputy police chief.
(Williams Dep. at 34-35). Williams testified that he did not,
however, believe that James was qualified to become a deputy
police chief at that time because she lacked a college
Q. What did Crystal James need mentoring in?
A. In this particular case this was mentoring to develop her
to be a police chief. Q. A deputy police chief, right? A.
Yes. Yeah, sure.
Q. You knew you wanted a deputy police chief, right? A. Oh,
Q. And she would be mentoring towards that position, correct?
Q. Okay. You were in a position where you knew you were going
to ask for the position - or you had just asked for the
position to be created of deputy police chief, right?
Q. And this was the perfect opportunity to have the person
that was here and mentor her as to what you were going to
need for the future, correct?
Q. Why not?
A. Because she wasn't qualified in my mind.
Q. She wasn't qualified in your mind in the summer of
2014 to be a deputy police chief, correct?
A. Yes, based upon education specifically.
Q. Okay. Anything else?
Q. Okay. It was just on education that she wasn't
qualified. Anything else?
Q. What was it about education?
A. I do not believe, and I've never believed, that a
person should be an executive in the police department
without having a college degree.
(Williams Dep. at 35-36).
testified that James continued to hold the rank of lieutenant
during her temporary assignment at the Dearborn campus, and
that her role was essentially the same as the role Lt. Paris
performed before retiring:
Q. Do you know what her rank was in Ann Arbor?
Q. Do you know if that rank changed when she came to
A. She acted in the capacity of deputy chief, but she was
still a lieutenant.
Q. When you say acted in the capacity of deputy chief, what
do you mean?
A. She would set policies. She was setting procedures for the
department, even though she wasn't technically a member
of the University of Michigan Dearborn Police Department . .
(Pl.'s Dep. at 86-87).
27, 2014, Williams announced that he was eliminating the
Lieutenant position (formerly held by Lt. Paris) and creating
a Deputy Chief position. Williams told Plaintiff that he was
qualified for the position and urged Plaintiff to apply for
it. (Defs.' & Pl.'s Stmts. at ¶ 53-54).
returned back to the University's Ann Arbor campus in
August of 2014. (Pl.'s Dep. at 88).
University posted the Deputy Chief position for Dearborn on
August 22, 2014, with a closing date of September 5, 2014.
The job posting listed the “working title, ” of
the position as “Deputy Chief of Police” but the
“Job Title” of the position as “Police
Lieutenant.” (Defs.' Ex. 10).
posting detailed the “Essential Qualifications”
for the position, which included, among other things:
• A bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice or related
field or an equivalent combination of education and
• 5 years of law enforcement experience
• 3 years of supervisory experience
• Excellent interpersonal skills and oral and written
(Defs.' & Pl.'s Stmts. at ¶ 56). The job
posting also listed the duties of the Deputy Chief position
- Establishes and maintains plans and operations in
compliance with university, state and federal requirements;
- Supervises a team of direct reports; including managing
work performance for completeness, accuracy and compliance
within established university and departmental standards;
- Completes project assignments from Chief concerning policy
construction and development, security needs/issues;
- Plans for responding to major crisis events and incidents
on campus acting as part of a university incident management
team or crisis management team;
- Serves on various University and Local/State law
- Assists in developing, recommending, and implementing
policies and procedures for the department. Serve in advisory
capacity to Chief and other university officials for public
safety concerns and methods for increased efficiency;
- Assists in departmental fiscal matters related to
operations, payroll, purchasing, and other areas of the
- Assists with planning for major all (sic) special events;
athletic, social, or of a cultural nature; with focus on
crowd control, traffic control and security operations;
providing guidance and direction, ensuring adequate staffing,
space and facilities for the subsequent performance of
- Performs non-law enforcement duties specific to campus
(Id. at 57).
total, the University received 62 applications for the Deputy
Chief position, including Plaintiff and Crystal James.
(Defs.' & Pl.'s Stmt. at ¶ 58).
and James each submitted a cover letter and copy of their
resume when they applied for the position.
cover letter expressed interest in the Dearborn Deputy Chief
of Police position and included that “[i]n June 2014, I
was asked to assist the Chief of Police at the University of
Michigan, Dearborn Police Department (UMD) transition in a
temporary Interim Lieutenant position working directly with
him. In that capacity, I served as acting Chief of Police
during the Chief's absence without issue.” (D.E.
No. 18-22 at Pg ID 342). Her attached resume indicated that
she anticipated receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree from
Central Michigan University in June of 2015. It further
indicated that James had worked for the University since
1992, and that she had been a Lieutenant since 2004.
cover letter expressed interest in the position and stated
that he had “over 28 years of progressively responsible