United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
J. MICHELSON, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Azuh was a resident physician at Providence Park Hospital.
She believes that Providence discriminated against her
because of her race and because she was pregnant during her
residency. Azuh also maintains that this discrimination led
her to quit the program. She thus sued Providence alleging
multiple claims of discrimination and retaliation under state
and federal law. Providence moves to dismiss the case on the
grounds that Azuh did not file suit within 180 days of the
alleged discriminatory activity as she agreed she would in
her employment application.
reasons that follow, the Court will deny Providence's
motion to dismiss.
following non-conclusory allegations are accepted as true.
See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 679 (2009).
an African-American woman who graduated from medical school
in December 2013. (R. 1, PID 2.) At the end of March 2014,
Providence accepted Azuh into its residency program at the
hospital's Southfield campus. (Id.) A few days
later, Azuh informed Providence that she was pregnant.
2014, soon after Azuh began her residency program, Dr. Karen
Mitchell, the Program Director of Providence's Family
Medicine Residency, called Azuh into a meeting. (R. 1, PID
3.) In this meeting, Mitchell instructed Azuh, over
Azuh's objection, to take three months of maternity
leave, which would delay her graduation from the residency.
(Id.) Mitchell also expressed concerns about
Azuh's ability to cope with the residency after having
her child. (R. 1, PID 3-4.) Around that same time, another
resident informed Azuh that individuals had been talking
about her and voiced similar concerns about her ability to
cope after returning from leave. (R. 1, PID 4.) Azuh was
warned by this resident: “You had better do what you
need to do so your child issues do not affect your work
here.” (Id.) Azuh completed her first two
rotations. (Id.) Then, at the end of July 2014, she
took about a month's maternity leave. (Id.)
her return in August 2014, Azuh felt overly-scrutinized in
her work and experienced an increasingly hostile work
environment. (R. 1, PID 5.) She was bullied and residents and
physicians refused to speak to her. (R. 1, PID 5.) Mitchell
even started a rumor that Azuh was having difficulty coping
with residency after childbirth. (Id.) And
Azuh's advisor, Dr. Martha Rumschlag, began asking her
personal questions, including about her children and husband,
her sleeping and eating habits, and her childcare routines.
(Id.) Rumschlag further suggested that Azuh start
therapy. (Id.) Still, Azuh completed two more
rotations in her residency.
winter of 2014, Rumschlag met with Azuh and informed her that
she should leave the program before she got fired. (R 1, PID
7.) She also told Azuh that she would be required to undergo
neuropsychological testing. (Id.)
after the meeting, Azuh met with Mitchell and relayed that
Rumschlag wanted her to leave the program, that she was being
treated differently than other residents, and that she wanted
a different advisor. (R. 1, PID 7-8.) Azuh further told
Mitchell that she was being harassed by attending physicians,
senior residents, and supervisors. (R. 1, PID 8.) Mitchell
warned Azuh that Rumschlag was the Chair of the Clinical
Competency Committee and that the psychological testing was
her meeting with Mitchell, Azuh was restricted in the number
of patients she could see. (Id.) This made it
difficult for her to reach program goals. (Id.) Azuh
also continued to be mistreated to the point that she
“would feel compelled to resign.” (R. 1, PID 9.)
So Azuh began to apply for alternative residency programs,
but her efforts were frustrated by Mitchell's refusal to
provide her a letter of recommendation. (R. 1, PID 10-11.)
The other programs also stopped contacting Azuh after they
spoke with Mitchell. (Id.)
February, 2015, Azuh met with Mitchell and Dr. Thomas Anan,
her family medicine supervisor, to discuss her performance in
her current rotation. (R. 1, PID 11.) Anan provided a good
evaluation. (Id.) At that same meeting, Azuh was
informed that, despite having scored well above average on
her board exams, her contract would not be renewed and that
she would still be required to undergo neuropsychological
testing “for academic purposes.” (R. 1, PID
April 2015, Azuh signed her second-year residency agreement.
(R. 1, PID 12-13.) She was informed, however, that her second
year would be delayed by three months because of her
maternity leave. (R. 1, PID 13.) Azuh continued to undergo
the required psychological testing. (R. 1, PID 13-15.) She
also found herself to be the only resident instructed to
manage patients overnight, the only resident not allowed to
present her cases to the next team after her shift, and the
only resident forbidden from attending the second-year
retreat with her colleagues. (R. 1, PID 14-15.)
September 2015, Azuh informed Mitchell that she felt
compelled to leave the residency program because of
discrimination, harassment, and poor treatment. (R. 1, PID
16.) Mitchell informed her that fewer credits than she earned
would transfer to a new program. (R. 1, PID 16- ...