United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
17, 2017, Plaintiff Michelle Johnson filed a complaint
alleging that her former employer, Defendants DaVITA, Inc.
and Renal Treatment Centers-Illinois, Inc. (collectively
"DaVita"), fired her in violation of Title VII, 42
U.S.C. § 2000e, and Michigan's Elliot-Larsen Civil
Rights Act ("ELCRA"). On March 19, 2018, Defendant
filed a motion for summary judgment. The Court reviewed the
briefs and finds that a hearing is unnecessary. For the
reasons below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion
for summary judgment.
employed Plaintiff Michelle Johnson as an RN at its
Southfield, MI dialysis center for two years. On July 22,
2016, DaVita terminated Johnson for job abandonment. ECF
22-4, PgID 224.
absences began after an incident on July 4, 2016. Johnson
called Patient and cancelled the patient's dialysis
appointment because Patient was two hours late and the
dialyzer had expired. Shortly after the phone call, Patient
arrived at DaVita, but Johnson refused to treat Patient
because of the dialyzer's expiration. Patient became
upset, called Johnson a racist, used obscenities, and knocked
against Johnson's shin with her motorized wheelchair
("Incident"). ECF 22-4, PgID 179-80. The physical
contact "grazed [Johnson's] shin and left [a]
mark" on her leg. Id. at 213; see also
ECF 22-8, PgID 273. Patient called the police alleging that
Johnson assaulted her. Johnson eventually filed her own
police complaint alleging that Patient assaulted
her. Johnson also contacted DaVita's personnel
hotline and discussed the Incident with Doreen
McInnes-Martin, DaVita's People Services Manager. The
next day, July 5, Johnson worked at the facility.
Incident, however, prompted Johnson to ask DaVita to
discontinue treatment of Patient. David Zagacki, DaVita's
Facility Administrator, and Jeffrey Daniel, DaVita's
Assistant Facility Administrator, sought a compromise by
offering either (1) to move Patient to the other side of the
building, (2) to suggest Patient visit a different facility,
or (3) to adjust Johnson's schedule for days during which
Patient would not receive dialysis treatment. Both parties
agreed to a compromise. As DaVita understood the compromise,
Johnson would work the Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday shift
after the completion of her then-current schedule on July 24,
2016. Johnson expressed her hope for that compromise as well,
stating "I have told [Daniel] for the next schedule to
put me on [the other shift]." ECF 22-4, PgID 221. She
hoped the placement would be temporary. Id.
DaVita's communication with Johnson-and sometimes its
lack of communication- caused her to suffer apparent
confusion about her work schedule. Despite the confusion,
however, Johnson acknowledged that she was scheduled to work
several days when Patient would be in the building, but she
"had to miss [work]" those days. Id.
18, 2016, Lakretia Hartfield, DaVita's Teammate Relations
Manager, mailed Johnson a return-to-work letter with clear
instructions to attend work on July 20. ECF 22-4, PgID 220.
Johnson-confused about the instruction because of the
scheduling compromise-texted and called Daniel requesting
clarification. Daniel did not return Johnson's
communications. And Johnson did not attend work.
Johnson's unexcused absences,  DaVita terminated
Johnson's employment for job abandonment. Johnson
contests the action because "DaVita basically
discriminated against me because no one had my back. No. one
. . . said [Patient] was wrong to me. No. one said
anything." ECF 22-4, PgID 203. She further "alleges
that she was terminated as a result of Patient making a
completely false assertion of racism against her." ECF
24, PgID 322. In sum, according to Johnson, DaVita terminated
her after failing to "conduct [an] adequate inquiry into
Johnson's concerns, and instead considered race in their
approach to these unique facts" by apparently accepting
Patient's assertions, placating Patient, and firing
Johnson. Id. at 325, 323.
DaVita never otherwise disciplined or reprimanded Johnson for
the Incident. ECF 22-4, PgID 185. Further, Zagacki challenged
Patient's characterization of Johnson as a racist by
saying that Johnson "care[d] for 90 percent African
American patients and she does a good job and she's
passionate about what she does." ECF 22-3, PgID 150.
Both Zagacki and Daniel testified that they did not believe
Johnson was a racist. Id.; ECF 22-6, PgID 251-52.
claims that DaVita terminated her because she is white and
brings her claims for reverse race discrimination under Title
VII and the ELCRA.
judgment is proper if there is "no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is material
for purposes of summary judgment if its resolution would
establish or refute an "essential element of a cause
of action or defense asserted by the parties[.]"
Kendall v. Hoover Co., 751 F.2d 171, 174 (6th Cir.
considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must
view the facts and draw all inferences in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Stiles ex rel. D.S. v.
Grainger Cty., Tenn., 819 F.3d 834, 848 (6th Cir. 2016).
The Court must then determine "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." Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). And although
the Court may not make credibility judgments or weigh the
evidence, Moran v. Al Basit LLC, 788 F.3d 201, 204
(6th Cir. 2015), a mere "scintilla" of evidence is