United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
J. MICHELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Azuh, who was born in Africa, spent the first year of her
medical residency at Providence Park Hospital. She alleges
that she was discriminated against on the basis of her race
and because she was pregnant at the beginning of the
residency program. And she claims those running the program
retaliated against her after she complained about the
discriminatory treatment. She further alleges that Providence
unlawfully required that she take a neuropsychological exam.
seeks summary judgment on all Azuh's claims.
reasons that follow, Providence's motion is granted in
part and denied in part.
March 2014, Chinye Azuh matched with Providence's family
medicine program. (ECF No. 28-2, PageID.758.) Less than a
month later, she informed Providence that her second child
was due in August but that she only wanted seven days off
after the delivery and “d[id] not want a leave of
absence or a rotation extension.” (ECF No. 28-3,
started her residency in July 2014. (ECF No. 28-2,
PageID.764.) During her orientation, some doctors noted
concerns about Azuh's time management, her ability to
sign patients out, her need for additional support, and her
ability to take a full patient load. (See ECF No.
orientation, Azuh took maternity leave. (ECF No. 28-2,
PageID.765.) Dr. Karen Mitchell, the director of the family
medicine program, and the person who selected Azuh for the
residency program (ECF No. 28-7, PageID.813), encouraged Azuh
to take more than one week off after the birth of her child.
Mitchell encouraged her, like she does all pregnant
residents, to take three months off. (ECF No. 28-7,
PageID.817.) Azuh agreed to take one month off but ended up
returning less than a month later. (ECF No. 28-2,
after returning, supervising doctors continued to note
concerns about Azuh's performance. For example, a
September 30, 2014 note from Mitchell's weekly meetings
with chief residents states that Azuh had trouble retaining
information, that senior residents were concerned about her
ability to do an accurate exam and so were verifying
everything themselves, that she could not sign patients out,
and that she missed things. (ECF No. 28-7, PageID.821-822.)
On October 7, 2014, Mitchell noted that Azuh was observed
just sitting in front of the computer for 40 minutes. (ECF
No. 28-11, PageID.849.) She also received low to average
scores in her faculty evaluations, especially with respect to
her clinical competence, but those evaluations appear to
generally improve as Azuh's first year progressed.
(See ECF No. 28-30.) Azuh admits that attendings and
other physicians spoke to her about her time management,
patient assessment, and confidence in treating patients. (ECF
No. 28-2, PageID.770.) When Mitchell later helped Azuh look
for other residency programs, Mitchell admitted that
Azuh's late start subjected her to increased scrutiny.
(ECF Nos. 28-20; 28-21.)
in September 2014, Azuh claims that she began complaining to
Mitchell that she was being treated differently than the
other residents because she had been pregnant. (ECF No. 28-2,
PageID.799-800.) She does not recall whether she also spoke
specifically about being treated differently because of her
months later, in December 2014, Azuh met with her advisor,
Dr. Martha Rumschlag. Azuh testified that at this meeting,
Rumschlag “told [her] to leave the program, ”
“told [her] that [her] contract would not be renewed,
” and that she “would sink, sink.” (ECF No.
28-2, PageID.760.) She also testified that Rumschlag told her
that it was in her best interest to look for another
residency program. (Id.) She told Rumschlag about
the bullying she was experiencing from other residents and
attending physicians. (ECF No. 28-2, PageID.760.) This
bullying included people laughing about her behind her back
and ignoring her. (See id.) Rumschlag's response
was that Azuh was being defensive. (Id.) Rumschlag
also told Azuh that she needed to see a therapist
“because in the days ahead [she] would require
days later, Azuh met with Mitchell. (ECF No. 28-2,
PageID.760.) Azuh spoke with Mitchell about her meeting with
Rumschlag and expressed that she did not think that Rumschlag
had her best interest at heart and wanted to switch advisors.
(ECF No. 28-2, PageID.761.) Mitchell reminded her that
Rumschlag was the chair of the Clinical Competency Committee
(CCC) and asked, knowing this, whether Azuh still wanted to
switch advisors. (Id.) Azuh said that she did, so
Azuh was switched to another advisor-Dr. Thomas Anan. (ECF
No. 28-2, PageID. 759, 761.)
in December, Azuh started a new rotation with Anan in Novi.
(ECF No. 28-2, PageID.771.) She was placed with him “to
improve [her] clinical skills as part of [an] academic
plan.” (ECF No. 28-2, PageID.771.) That rotation went
well. (ECF No. 28-2, PageID.772.)
February 2015, the CCC met and discussed Azuh, which the CCC
did after every rotation. (ECF No. 26-4, PageID.461; ECF No.
28-15, PageID.865.) Notes from that meeting reflect that the
CCC had concerns about Azuh's ability to perform tasks in
a timely fashion, exercise independent judgment in patient
management, and to make decisions. (ECF No. 28-15,
PageID.865.) The notes also reflect discussions to develop a
remediation plan, including that Azuh be in therapy and that
she take a neuropsychological test. (Id.)
the CCC meeting, Mitchell drove to Novi to meet with Azuh and
Anan. (Id.) At that meeting, Mitchell
“congratulated [Azuh] for doing well in this
rotation” and relayed that she heard positive comments
that Azuh's time management was improving, that her
presentations were organized, and that she was ready to take
an increased patient load. (ECF No. 28-2, PageID.772; ECF No.
28-16, PageID.867.) She also acknowledged Azuh's
difficult transition into the residency and relayed the
CCC's recommendation that she continue therapy and that
she take a neuropsychological exam. (Id.) She also
relayed goals she wanted Azuh to meet that matched the
concerns raised at the CCC meeting. (ECF No. 28-15,
PageID.865; ECF No. 28-16, PageID.867.) Azuh became upset
that Mitchell wanted her to take the neuropsychological test
and started crying. (ECF No. 28-2, PageID.772.)
this time Azuh told Mitchell that she was seeing someone for
mental health counseling. (ECF No. 28-2, PageID.772.) Azuh
did not clarify that she was seeing her pastor for counseling
until after Providence had required that she be in therapy.
(Id.) When Mitchell told her that she needed to see
a licensed psychologist, Azuh reluctantly did so. (ECF No.
28-2, PageID.772, 774.)
April 2015, Azuh signed a contract for the second year of
residency. (ECF No. 28-2, PageID.776.) But in July, the CCC
met and recommended that Azuh's contract be terminated or
that she be put on a remediation plan. (ECF No. 26-4,
PageID.469.) Mitchell decided not to terminate Azuh's
contract, but instead implemented a remediation plan. (ECF
No. 26-4, PageID.470.) After the CCC meeting, Mitchell and
Rumschlag met with Azuh, and Azuh was told that her first
year was going to be extended by three months. (ECF No. 28-2,
PageID.776.) At this meeting, Azuh signed a performance
enhancement plan, which included the three-month extension of
her first year. (ECF No. 28-27, PageID.898.)
avoided taking the neuropsychological test until Providence
went ahead and scheduled it for her in September 2015. (ECF
No. 28-2, PageID.775; ECF No. 28-32, PageID.987.) The exam
was scheduled after Azuh completed an overnight ICU shift.
(ECF No. 28-2, PageID.797.) Azuh left after four hours-about
half way through the exam. (ECF No. 28-2, PageID.797-798.)
resigned from the program on September 30, 2015. (ECF No.
28-5, PageID.807.) She then started another residency program
in Tennessee in the field of psychiatry. (ECF No. 28-2,
judgment is proper “if the movant shows that 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 only if it might affect the outcome
of the case under the governing law. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). On a
motion for summary judgment, the court must view the
evidence, and any reasonable inferences drawn from the
evidence, in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. See Matsushita ...