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Jackson v. International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 2, 2018

Maurice Jackson, Plaintiff,
v.
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Workers Of America, et al., Defendants.

          R. Steven Whalen, Mag. Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS [10 AND 13] AND GRANTING MOTION TO WITHDRAW AS COUNSEL [21]

          JUDITH E. LEVY, United States District Judge.

         This is a case of alleged discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff Maurice Jackson alleges that his former employer and union violated 42 U.S.C. §1981 (“Section 1981”) when they settled a grievance arising out of his termination from the company. The matter before the Court is defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint as time barred under the applicable statute of limitations. (Dkts. 10, 13.)

         I. Background

         Plaintiff worked for Severstal Dearborn, LLC, now A.K. Steel Corporation (“the company defendant”) beginning in 1999. (Dkt. 1 at 21.) In early 2013, the company defendant became aware that scarfing department and slab yard department employees were re-entering company grounds at various times during their shift without ever clocking out or requesting leave. (Dkt. 1 at 7.) The company defendant conducted an investigation of possible time theft by analyzing several months of gate swipe records for all employees in the scarfing and slab yard departments.

         The company defendant found that the practice of re-entering company grounds during a shift was widespread, and included nearly all employees in the scarfing and slab yard departments. The company defendant found that all 17 of 17 scarfing employees and 32 of 33 slab yard employees swiped into the facility during their shifts.

         The company defendant determined that it would terminate those employees whose swipe-ins took place within the last hour of the employee's shift. (Dkt. 20 at 11.) Only one of the terminated employees was white, and the rest were African American. (Dkt. 1 at 7-8.) Plaintiff, who is African American (Dkt. 1 at 8), was terminated on July 9, 2013. (Dkt. 20 at 7.)

         On August 20, 2013, plaintiff filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (“MDCR”). (Dkt. 1 at 12.) The other five African American employees who were terminated also filed similar claims. (See Thomas v. Int'l Union, UAW, No. 16-11447 (E.D. Mich., filed April 21, 2016)).

         On October 25, 2013, the company defendant and International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Workers of America, UAW Local 600 (“the union defendants”) entered into a letter agreement, which would settle and resolve plaintiff and other terminated employees' grievances (the “October 25, 2013 letter agreement”). (Dkt. 1 at 13.) The October 25, 2013 letter agreement stated in relevant part:

Grievant agrees to request the withdrawal of any pending charges or complaints filed and agrees not to file, or authorize the filing in his name or on his behalf, of any additional charges or complaints arising out of his discharge or this grievance processing and settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board or any other administrative agency; and agrees that no monetary or other relief may be awarded to Grievant or for Grievant's benefit as a result of any administrative proceeding of such charge or complaint. (Dkt. 1 at 14.)

         Plaintiff refused to sign the October 25, 2013 letter agreement when it was first offered. Later, on January 24, 2014, plaintiff changed his mind, and signed the October 2013 proposed settlement in order to be reinstated with the company. (Dkt. 1 at 15.)

         On January 24, 2014, plaintiff also signed a Settlement and Release Agreement which stated, in relevant part:

In consideration for the covenants and conditions contained in the Agreement, and conditioned upon the MDCR's acceptance of Employee's request to withdraw his pending charge of discrimination (MDCR Contact #446305), Employee and Severstal agree to the following terms: . . .
b. Employee agrees to request the withdrawal of all pending charges or complaints filed by him or on his behalf (including his MDCR Complaint) . . . and agrees not to file, or authorize the filing in his name or on his behalf, of any additional charges, complaints, or appeals ...

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