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Shah v. FCA US, LLC

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

June 12, 2019

Bhavi Shah, Plaintiff,
FCA U.S. LLC, ET AL., Defendants.



         I. Introduction

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Defendant FCA US, LLC moves this Court to dismiss Plaintiffs' discrimination complaint against it. For the reasons discussed below, this Court will grant Defendant's Motion and dismiss Plaintiff's complaint against all Defendants.

         II. Factual Background

         Plaintiff Bhavi Shah became an employee of Defendant FCA US, LLC (“FCA”) around 2014. Dkt. No. 1, pg. 4 (Pg. ID 65). Before that, she was employed by FCA's predecessors. Id. Plaintiff signed an employment application on June 19, 1996 with FCA's predecessors in which she agreed “that any claim or lawsuit arising out of [her] employment . . . must be filed no more than six (6) months after the date of the employment action that is the subject of the claim or lawsuit.” Dkt. No. 11-5, pg. 3 (Pg. ID 205). Plaintiff is of Asian race and Indian national origin. Dkt. No. 1, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 63). Defendant Daquanda Flowers became Plaintiff's direct supervisor in early 2017. Id. at pg. 6 (Pg. ID 67). In May of 2015, Plaintiff was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy edema. Id. at pg. 5 (Pg. ID 66). This condition requires Plaintiff to receive an injection once a month and have a day of recovery time. Id. Plaintiff alleges that her supervisor before Flowers allowed her the accommodation of working from home on days of her injections and the day after for the recovery time. Id. at pg. 6 (Pg. ID 67). However, Flowers would not allow Plaintiff this accommodation. Id. Therefore, Plaintiff worked with the human resources department to get the accommodation approved. Id. When it was approved, Plaintiff alleges that Flowers was “furious” and began to shun her, give her icy stares, and/or verbally assault and berate Plaintiff. Id. at pg. 7 (Pg. ID 68).

         On January 12, 2018, Plaintiff alleges that she met with the head of human resources at FCA, Defendant Charlie Stein. Id. at pg. 10 (Pg. ID 71). She alleges that she complained to Stein about the discriminatory and retaliatory conduct that Flowers was subjecting her to. The complaint asserts that Stein indicated that he would conduct an investigation and get back to Plaintiff with his findings. Id. at pg. 11 (Pg. ID 72).

         Plaintiff states that on March 12, 2018, after she returned from medical leave for eye surgery, Flowers “unleashed a fury on her” in retaliation for her complaint to human resources and for taking medical leave. Id. at pg. 12 (Pg. ID 73). Plaintiff alleges that Flowers retaliated against her by giving her a very low bonus for 2017, $782.00. Id. Additionally, Flowers allegedly gave Plaintiff a low performance review in retaliation. Id. at pg. 13 (Pg. ID 74).

         On March 12, 2018, Plaintiff met with Defendant Stein to follow up about her complaints against Flowers. Id. at pg. 12 (Pg. ID 73). Stein informed Plaintiff that Flowers' conduct was not found to be retaliatory or racially motivated under FCA's policy. Id. at pg. 13 (Pg. ID 74). Stein also informed Plaintiff that FCA would not be removing her from Flowers' supervision. Id.

         On May 7, 2018, Flowers and Stein met with Plaintiff and presented her with a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”). Id. at pg. 17 (Pg. ID 78). The PIP included over 60 bullet points of actions for Plaintiff to perform in order to meet her 2017 goals. Id. at pg. 41 (Pg. ID 102). Flowers created the PIP with the approval of Stein. Id. at pg. 18 (Pg. ID 79). Plaintiff alleges that the PIP was bogus, onerous, unreasonable, and retaliatory. Id. Plaintiff complained to Stein that she believed the PIP requirements were unrealistic. Id. Stein informed Plaintiff that following the PIP was her only recourse. Id. at pg. 19 (Pg. ID 80). Plaintiff then told Stein that if Flowers and FCA were setting her up to fail with the PIP, FCA should give her a fair severance package. Id.

         Plaintiff took some vacation days and returned to work on May 21, 2018. Id. at pg. 20 (Pg. ID 81). That same day, Stein emailed Plaintiff and stated that he had a severance package ready for Plaintiff to review. Id. Stein told Plaintiff that she had 21 days to accept or reject it. Id. Plaintiff reviewed the package and did not think it was fair. Id. at pg. 21 (Pg. ID 82). She informed Stein that she would therefore need to continue her employment with FCA. Id. Defendant did not continue Plaintiff's employment and terminated Plaintiff on May 23, 2018. Dkt. No. 1, pg. 21 (Pg. ID 82).

         Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on July 30, 2018. Dkt. No. 11-2, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 198). The charge states that during Plaintiff's employment, Defendants subjected her to different treatment than her Caucasian colleagues. Id. It states that Plaintiff's believes that she was subjected to different treatment because of race, national origin, disability, and in retaliation for engaging in protected activity. Id. The EEOC issued Plaintiff a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter on September 24, 2018. Dkt. No. 11-3, pg. 2 (Pg. ID 200).

         Plaintiff filed her pro se complaint with this Court on December 12, 2018. Dkt. No. 1. Defendant filed the present Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on February 6, 2019. Dkt. No. 12. A representative for Plaintiff contacted this Court on February 27, 2019 requesting an extension to respond to Defendant's Motion because Plaintiff was attempting to obtain counsel. Defendant did not oppose the extension. Accordingly, this Court granted Plaintiff an extension of three weeks to respond to Defendant's Motion. Dkt. No. 14. On March 22, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiff a second three-week extension to respond to the Motion. Dkt. No. 15. Plaintiff has failed to file a response. On June 12, 2019, this Court held a motion hearing on Defendant's Motion. Plaintiff did not appear for the motion hearing.

         III. Legal Standard

         Federal courts review motions for judgment on the pleadings brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) using the standards applicable to motions filed under Rule 12(b)(6). See Wee Care Child Ctr., Inc. v. Lumpkin, 680 F.3d 841, 846 (6th Cir. 2012). Though litigants employ these procedural mechanisms at different stages of the proceedings, the purpose of both motions is to test the legal sufficiency of a plaintiff's pleadings. Thus, as with Rule 12(b)(6) motions, a Rule 12(c) motion ...

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