United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (DOC. 43)
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Prince Robinson worked as a valet attendant for Defendant MGM
Grand Detroit, LLC (“MGM”) for fourteen years
prior to his termination on November 15, 2016. In his
fourteen-count Complaint, Robinson alleges he was terminated
in retaliation for taking medical leave for treatment of his
plantar fasciitis, in violation of the Family and Medical
Leave Act (“FMLA”). He also alleges retaliation,
hostile work environment, race discrimination, and sexual
harassment in violation of Title VII and Michigan's
Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”),
disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of the
American's with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and
Michigan's Persons with Disability Act
(“PWDCRA”), and negligent retention, training,
and supervision, and negligent infliction of emotion distress
under state common law. Now before the court is
Defendant's motion for summary judgment as to all claims.
For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for
summary judgment shall be granted.
court construes the facts in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party, here Robinson. Robinson began working for
MGM as a valet attendant on June 27, 2002. (Doc. 46, Ex. A).
His job responsibilities included retrieving cars from an
underground parking structure, which frequently involved
running on hard pavement. (Doc. 46, Ex. B, C at 42).
According to Robinson's supervisor, Lisa Conner, he was
frequently arriving late for work or barely on time, and had
been disciplined for an instance where he was rushing to
clock in on time and knocked over and injured a co-worker.
(Doc. 43, Ex. D at ¶¶ 11-12, Ex. A at 289-90).
Plaintiff's Plantar Fasciitis
sought medical treatment for foot pain around 2003, and was
diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. (Doc. 46, Ex. C at 142-43).
He was first treated with cortisone shots, and later was
fitted with orthotics for his shoes. Id. at 143. At
his deposition, Robinson testified that he was able to work
with his orthotics. (Doc. 43, Ex. A at 209-10). Despite the
orthotics, he continued to suffer foot pain which worsened
over time. (Doc. 46, Ex. C at 159). In March, 2016, Robinson
applied to take intermittent leave under the FMLA, but his
request was denied when he failed to submit certification
from his physician. (Doc. 43, Ex. G at PgID 934). In
September, 2016, the pain became so debilitating that he was
unable to work until new orthotics could be made. (Doc. 46,
Ex. C at 163). He submitted another request for FMLA leave
until new orthotics could be fashioned. (Doc. 43, Ex. A at
184, 225). Robinson was treated by a podiatrist, Charles
Young, who wrote a disability certificate that Robinson was
under his care from October 10, 2016 to October 25, 2016,
during which time, Robinson was reported to be totally
incapacitated due to his plantar fasciitis. (Doc. 46, Ex. J).
was approved for FMLA leave as of September 14, 2016. (Doc.
46, Ex. C at 161-62). Robinson claims his supervisor, whom he
identities only by his first name, Enrique, told him
“congratulations on your FMLA approval.” (Doc.
46, Ex. C at 221). During his sick time and vacation time in
September, 2016, Robinson tried to secure a business loan in
Atlanta. (Doc. 43, Ex. J). MGM argues that Robinson used
false identification and falsified corporate documents in his
attempt to secure the loan, which it maintains would have
been grounds to terminate him, had it known of this activity.
(Doc. 43, Ex. J, K at ¶¶ 4-5).
Robinson Fails to Use Time Clock and Improperly Uses
Exception Log to Record Hours Worked
September 28, 2016, Robinson arrived late for his shift and
received .5 disciplinary attendance points. (Doc. 43, Ex. L).
On September 30, 2016, Robinson arrived late for work again.
Rather than clock in late, he signed the “exception
log” noting that he worked from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Doc.
43, Ex. M, Ex. A at 117, 121). In fact, Robinson arrived at
the casino employee entrance at 6:02 p.m., changed into his
uniform until 6:06 p.m., used a hotel elevator to the hotel
lobby, and arrived at the casino valet office at 6:10 p.m.
(Doc. 43, Ex. M at PgID 1016-17). According to MGM, the
exception log is only to be used when there is a technical
problem with the time clock that prevents an employee from
clocking in. No. supervisor signed the exception log for
Robinson as required under MGM policy. (Doc. 43, Ex. D at
¶18). Thus, on October 1, 2016, MGM relied on
surveillance video to verify Robinson's time recording in
the exception log, and determined that Robinson arrived late
and did not report to the casino valet office until 6:10 p.m.
(Doc. 43, Ex. M at PgID 1016-17).
Robinson's Termination for Falsification of Time
October 29, 2016, when Robinson attempted to return to work,
MGM served him a notice of Suspension Pending Investigation
(”SPI”) for his falsification of time records on
September 30, 2016. (Doc. 43, Ex. 0). Robinson's due
process meeting was held on November 8, 2016 with his union
representative present. (Doc. 43, Ex. M at PgID 1016).
Robinson admitted he was late, and that he used the exception
log to avoid being docked in pay or receiving disciplinary
points for tardiness. (Doc. 43, Ex. A at 276-78). The due
process hearing was conducted by Labor Relations Partner
Wanda Parker, who recommended that Robinson be terminated.
(Doc. 46, Ex. M at PgID 1016-17). Parker reported the results
of the time clock fraud investigation to her supervisor, Tara
McIntosh, Senior Employee and Labor Relations Partner, and
Marc Guastella, then Vice President in charge of the valet
department. McIntosh and Guastella decided to fire Robinson.
(Doc. 43, Ex. D at ¶ 26; Ex. P). MGM notified Robinson
that he was terminated effective November 15, 2016. (Doc. 43,
Ex. P, Doc. 46, Ex. C at 123). MGM has terminated other
employees for similar misconduct. (Doc. 43, Ex. D at ¶
21, Ex. N at 4).
Robinson's Letter to Human Resources
his use of the exception log on September 30, 2016, Robinson
was out of work, either on vacation time or FMLA leave, until
he returned to work in the evening of Friday, October 28,
2016. (Doc. 46, Ex. C at 184, Doc. 43, Ex. L, Ex. O). He was
terminated at the end of his shift in the early morning hours
of Saturday, October 29, 2016. (Doc. 46, Ex. C at 186). While
off work, Robinson heard a rumor he was going to be
terminated. (Doc. 46, Ex. C. at 183). He then drafted a
five-page letter complaining about his supervisor, Lisa
Conner, for gripes dating back to 2007, which he dropped off
in a mailbox outside the Human Resources office on his first
day back to work. (Doc. 46, Ex. C at 185, 189, Doc. 43, Ex.
Q). Robinson claims he was terminated in retaliation for the
submission of that letter. In that letter, Robinson accused
Conner of having “the biggest, nastiest, uncontrollable
mouth this side of the Player's Club, ” and
complained that she is “bald-headed, divorced and
can't have any kids.” Id. at PgID 1038-39.
Robinson claimed that Conner created a hostile environment.
Specifically, he claimed that Conner told a pregnant female
valet, “I bet you're going to be glad when you drop
that bitch.” Id. at PgID 1038. He also
complained that he heard a rumor that Conner removed her
panties in her car with the door opened and said, “I
got to let this m- f -- breathe.” Id. at PgID
also alleged that in 2015, Conner told him to go “get
some sun, ” allegedly a reference to his light
complexion. Id. At his deposition, Robinson
testified that he and Conner are both African-American and
share the same light complexion. (Doc. 43, Ex. A at 195). He
also alleged that Conner's agenda is to fire anyone with
FMLA approval. (Doc. 43, Ex. Q at PgID 1040). He claimed that
Conner must have breached the privacy of his medical
information, because his supervisor Enrique congratulated him
on receiving FMLA leave. Id. He also alleged that
Conner made a reference to his penis, by commenting,
“it smells like you washed it.” Id. at
PgID 1041. He further claimed that Conner's negative
remarks against him date back to 2007 when she allegedly
called him “pathetic” and told him that, “I
feel sorry for your wife.” Id. Robinson also
claims that Conner referred to another man as a “real
man, ” which he claims implied he was not. Id.
at PgID 1039. Finally, he complains that he is being targeted
“because of many reasons, ” including his status
“as a veteran at the highest of a two tier pay
plan.” Id. at PgID 1041. These allegations set
forth in Robinson's October 28, 2016 letter to Human
Resources form the factual predicate for his discrimination
and retaliation claims in this lawsuit.
Standard of Law
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) empowers the court to render
summary judgment "forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." See Redding v. St. Eward, 241 F.3d 530,
532 (6th Cir. 2001). The Supreme Court has affirmed the
court's use of summary judgment as an integral part of
the fair and efficient administration of justice. The
procedure is not a disfavored ...