United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Anthony P. Patti U.S. Magistrate Judge
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 
filed on December 15, 2017. Plaintiff did not file a response
to Defendants' Motion. On May 7, 2018, the Court held a
hearing on the Motion at which it gave the parties the
opportunity to submit additional briefing. Plaintiff filed an
untimely Affidavit  in lieu of a brief. Defendants filed
a Reply  on May 29, 2018. For the reasons stated below,
and incorporating the reasons stated on the record, the Court
GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment  and DISMISSES the case.
Joanne Jackson is a 61-year-old African American woman who
began working for Defendant Woodward Hills Joint Venture
(“Woodward Hills”) as a Licensed Practical Nurse
(“LPN”) in September 2000. Woodward Hills is a
nursing center in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan that provides
specialized, full-time care to its residents.
employee, who is alleged to have violated a Woodward Hills
policy, is issued a Corrective Action Record
(“CAR”) that describes the incident. The CAR,
which the employee is asked to sign, acknowledges that the
employee has discussed the record of her conduct with her
supervisor and that lack of improvement may result in
termination. Before terminating an employee for misconduct,
Woodward Hills typically issues four disciplinary warnings.
September 2013, Woodward Hills hired Defendant Elizabeth
McClellan as its Director of Nursing (“DON”). As
the DON, McClellan became Jackson's supervisor. McClellan
wanted to “start anew with the employees and judge
their work based on her own observations.” McClellan
Decl. Ex. 3, ¶ 8.
to 2013, Jackson, like other LPNs at Woodward Hills, had been
disciplined several times for misconduct. Pl. Dep. 58:24-25,
July 26, 2017.
December 30, 2014, an incident occurred in which three
nurses, at least two of whom were white, attempted to assist
a patient who was in pain and having difficulty on the
toilet. Jackson, apparently troubled with the nurses'
treatment plan, testified that she told the nurses that they
“should be ashamed” and that it was
“scary” that they did know what they were doing.
Pl. Dep. 110:7-15. Jackson also stated that she discussed the
incident with McClellan. Id. at 109:15; Pl. Decl.,
interviewing the three other nurses - Ashley, Raylene, and
Nicole - on December 31, 2014, McClellan determined that
Jackson had disrespected her co-workers by commenting
negatively about their performance in front of others,
including patients and their families. McClellan Decl.,
¶ 13. On January 5, 2015, McClellan took her first
disciplinary action against Jackson for rude or uncivil
behavior regarding her conduct on December 30, 2014. Jackson
signed the CAR, acknowledging her receipt of the written
warning, but noting that she “gave her co-workers
respect” and was “sorry that they took it the
wrong way.” Ex. 8.
7, 2015, Jackson received a second disciplinary write-up for
insubordination and/or refusal to follow the instructions of
her immediate supervisor, Lindsay Phillips. Notes attached to
the CAR indicate that Jackson raised concerns about
Phillips' favoritism for white employees over black
employees. Jackson refused to sign the CAR acknowledging that
she discussed the record of her conduct with Phillips. Ex. 9.
testified that sometime in July 2015, other employees told
her that Woodward Hills was trying to “clean
house” to “get rid of all the old nurses”
and was falsifying disciplinary documents to that end. Pl.
Dep. 55:23; 56:5-10. Jackson stated that, in August 2015, she
complained to McClellan about discriminatory treatment. Pl.
Decl., ¶¶ 13.
December 1, 2015, Jackson received a third disciplinary
write-up for rude or uncivil behavior. The CAR provides in
After reviewing your personnel file, there are numerous
examples of inappropriate actions and words said to your
residents. We need you to be more professional, compassionate
and meet your resident's needs in a timely manner. We
need to see you learning from these corrective actions and
not letting these situations happen again.
Jackson refused to sign the CAR. Ex. 10.
December 10, 2015, Jackson filed a charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
against Woodward Hills alleging that, since August 2015, she
had received several write-ups from the DON and had been
recently assigned a schedule change without notice. Jackson
indicated that she believed she had been subjected to
discriminatory disciplinary actions based on her race and
age. Ex. 12. Jackson testified that she “[n]ever had a
problem, for 16 years, so that gave [her] a good
indication” that Woodward Hills was harassing her. Pl.
December 22, 2015, Jackson received a fourth, and final,
disciplinary warning for carelessness in performance,
misrepresentation to the facility, falsifying resident
records, and interfering with the work performance of other
staff. Again, Jackson refused to sign the CAR. Ex. 13. The
final warning required that she complete eLearning Modules
within two weeks or face possible termination. Jackson
testified that she knew she had to complete the eLearning
Modules within two weeks, but still failed to do so. Pl. Dep.
January 25, 2016, Jackson was suspended. The events that
preceded her suspension are disputed. Jackson testified that
at the start of her shift on that date, she “complained
to [the] midnight supervisor to take [her] off the set”
and asked to not work the set. Pl. Dep. 279:11-14; 280:8-9.
Jackson's shift supervisor, Teddy, called McClellan about