from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Ohio at Columbus. No. 2:15-cv-03068-Edmund A.
Sargus, Jr., District Judge.
G. Friedmann, THE FRIEDMANN FIRM LLC, Columbus, Ohio, Gregory
R. Mansell, MANSELL LAW LLC, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellant.
Rebecca J. Bennett, Russell T. Rendall, OGLETREE, DEAKINS,
NASH, SMOAK & STEWART, P.C., Cleveland, Ohio, for
Before: BOGGS, MOORE, and STRANCH, Circuit Judges.
NELSON MOORE, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
2015, Jared Hickle was working for American Multi-Cinema,
Inc. ("AMC") while also serving in the Ohio Army
National Guard. AMC fired Hickle in April of that year. AMC
asserts that the termination was for "unprofessional
behavior" and "impeding [an] investigation";
Hickle claims that it stemmed from AMC's anti-military
animus and therefore violated his rights under the Uniformed
Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and
analogous Ohio law. The district court granted AMC's
motion for summary judgment on Hickle's
wrongful-termination claims and later entered judgment in
AMC's favor. This was an error. Hickle gathered evidence
during discovery that would allow a reasonable jury to find
that his military service was a motivating factor in
AMC's termination decision. Therefore, we
REVERSE the judgment of the district court
and REMAND for further proceedings
consistent with this opinion.
record before us is full of disputes of fact, with the
parties presenting divergent, if not wholly contradictory,
accounts of crucial events. Because we are reviewing a grant
of summary judgment in AMC's favor, the facts presented
below are described in the light most favorable to Hickle,
the non-moving party, and with all reasonable inferences
drawn in his favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
Hickle's Career at AMC
Hickle began working for AMC Lennox Town Center Theater in
2004, while he was still in high school. R. 29-1 (Hickle Dep.
at 66) (Page ID #121). In 2006, he was promoted from crew
member to Operations Coordinator at Easton Town Center
Theater. Id. at 91 (Page ID #127). Then, in 2008, he
joined the Ohio Army National Guard. Id. at 57 (Page
ID #118). After joining the National Guard but before leaving
for training, Hickle interviewed for a management position
with the Easton General Manager, Tim Kalman. Id. at
125-27 (Page ID #135-36). During the interview, Hickle told
Kalman that he was going to have to leave for military
training for approximately six months; Kalman ended the
interview immediately. Id. at 126-27 (Page ID #136).
The person who got the promotion later told Hickle:
"Thanks for joining the military. I just got
promoted." Id. at 384-85 (Page ID #200).
promote Hickle to a management position when he returned from
military training, and in April 2013 Hickle was promoted to
Kitchen Manager at the Easton Theater. Id. at 112-16
(Page ID #132-33). In the interim, Hickle continued his
military service, including serving for over a year in
Afghanistan. Id. at 43-44 (Page ID #115).
AMC never prevented Hickle from fulfilling his military
obligations or denied him time off, one Senior Manager,
Jacqueline Adler, repeatedly expressed disapproval when
Hickle had to take leave for military duty. First, Adler told
Hickle "that [his] requesting time off was always
frustrating to her," that "[i]t always put a major
issue on her schedule," and "[s]he even made
statements [that Hickle] should be moved to the front of
house because there's more managers out there and it
wouldn't be such a [headache] on her." Id.
at 338-39 (Page ID #189).
next negative comment from Adler happened in June 2014.
Id. at 339 (Page ID #189). Hickle was scheduled to
close on the Thursday preceding a military obligation that
was set to begin on Friday. Id. Because closing
shifts often ended well after midnight and orders could
commence at midnight, Hickle could not close that Thursday.
Id. at 102-03, 339-40 (Page ID #130, 189). When he
told that to Adler, she told him that he "need[ed] to
find another job, as [he] no longer met the . . . minimum
qualifications for being employed at AMC." Id. at
339-40 (Page ID #189). He reported this comment to Kalman,
the General Manager, who said "he would take care of
Hickle returned from his military obligation, he requested a
meeting with Kalman and Adler about Adler's comments, and
during that meeting Hickle provided Kalman with a pamphlet on
USERRA obligations. Id. at 380-82 (Page ID
#199-200). Hickle wanted to ensure he would not be retaliated
against for his service. Id. at 381 (Page ID #199).
When Hickle gave Kalman the pamphlet, Kalman asked Hickle why
he was giving it to Kalman, to which Hickle responded,
"I just wanted you to have it"; Kalman then asked
Hickle whether he had ever denied Hickle time off, to which
Hickle responded "[n]o, I just want you to have
it." R. 36 (Kalman Dep. at 86) (Page ID #1079). Kalman
never attended any AMC training on USERRA compliance or asked
for information on USERRA compliance. Id. at 87
(Page ID #1080). He knew that AMC "need[ed] to honor
their [sic] days off," but "never . . . asked for
continued to insinuate that Hickle could or should be fired
for taking time off for military duty. In February 2015, as
Hickle was requesting time off for a military obligation,
Adler commented that Hickle was "taking off the whole
summer" and "[w]e just need to get [Hickle]
replaced." R. 29-1 (Hickle Dep. at 341) (Page ID #189).