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Kasprzynski v. Michigan Department of Corrections

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

July 30, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) and the State of Michigan (Dkt. 26), and Plaintiff Lou Ann Kasprzycki's motion for leave to file a sur-reply in opposition to Defendants' motion (Dkt. 32). Because oral argument will not aid the decisional process, the motions will be decided based on the parties' briefing. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2); Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons that follow, both motions are denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Kasprzycki[1] was employed by MDOC as a Corrections Officer (“CO”) from September 14, 2003 until her termination on March 16, 2016. Defendants' Statement of Material Facts (“DSMF”) ¶ 1 (Dkt. 26). She worked at the Women's Huron Valley Facility (“WHV”). DSMF ¶ 2.

         WHV is the only women's prison facility in Michigan. In 2000, MDOC reached a settlement with the United States Department of Justice following a lawsuit:

[The lawsuit] was over the fact that there were numerous complaints by female offenders of sexual assault and sexual abuse by male staff. It focused primarily on corrections officers at the - at the female facilities within the - within the State, which at that time I believe there were three still facilities.
So the DOJ brought a lawsuit against the Department because it didn't believe we were - the Department was doing enough to protect the female offenders. Which resulted in a settlement eventually. Which one of the conditions as part of, to ensure protection of the female offenders, was to only have female officers supervise female offenders in a period or time where they could be in a state of undress.

8/23/2018 Patterson Dep., Ex. 2 to Pl. Resp., at 61 (Dkt. 29-3). In 2004, the Sixth Circuit upheld MDOC's designation of 250 Correctional Officer and Residential Unit Officer positions in female prisons as “female only” against challenges that this violated Title VII. Everson v. Mich. Dep't of Corrs., 391 F.3d 737 (6th Cir. 2004). In this context, the court determined that being female was a bona fide occupational qualification (“BFOQ”) permitted under Title VII.

         Until about 2009 - when Michigan's three women-only facilities were consolidated into only one, WHV - only staff who worked in the housing units were required to be women. 8/23/2018 Patterson Dep. at 63. In 2009, the number of women-only positions expanded to include non-housing unit positions, such as food service officer, yard control officer, and electronic monitor officer. Id. at 63, 99. This caused staffing issues at WHV, as some positions could only be staffed by women. Id. at 65.

         Employees at WHV were sometimes “mandated, ” or required to work overtime following their regularly-scheduled shift. Kasprzycki Dep., Ex. 1 to Pl. Resp., at 75 (Dkt. 29-2). Kasprzycki estimated that she was manDated: WHV approximately one to two times per week. Id. at 76. She testified that this was “overwhelming, ” “[w]ondering every day if you went to work if you're going to have to spend another eight hours there or even an hour. It took ahold [sic] of you mentally and physically[.]” Id. at 88. Kasprzycki testified that she would rarely see a male CO mandated. Id. at 79.

         Article 15 of the collective bargaining agreement between the MDOC and the Michigan Corrections Organization discusses a CO's eligibility to transfer. Security Unit Agreement, Ex. H to Defs. Mot. (Dkt. 26-9). There are three types of transfers: seniority-based, closer-to-home, and a one-for-one or exchange. 8/23/2018 Patterson Dep. at 45-46. For a “seniority-based transfer, ” an employee must “[h]ave no record of disciplinary action or unsatisfactory rating during the two years preceding the date of the transfer request[.]” Security Unit Agreement at 96. A closer-to-home transfer is “hardship based, ” and allows an employee who resides more than forty miles from his or her place of employment to transfer to a facility that is within forty miles of his or her residence. 8/23/2018 Patterson Dep. at 46. A one-for-one transfer is an informal process by which an individual looking to transfer to a different facility finds another person at that facility who wants to transfer to the individual's current facility. Id. at 46-47.

         Since 2005, MDOC has had a “transfer freeze” in place at WHV. WHV Transfer Freeze, Ex. K to Defs. Mot., at PageID.423 (Dkt. 26-12).[2] During a transfer freeze, an individual's ability to transfer to another facility is restricted, although one-for-one transfers could be allowed if approved by the deputy director. 8/23/2018 Patterson Dep. at 48.

         An EEOC Report from October 12, 2011 found that MDOC's “broad application of the BFOQ has a negative impact on female officers' ability to transfer to other correctional facilities.” EEOC Findings, Ex. 5 to Pl. Resp., at 430 (Dkt. 29-6). The report stated that “female officers should be allowed the same rights the male officers are given when it comes to being transferred to other Correctional Facilities. . . . As currently implemented, the gender based policy disqualifies females from positions without a clear analysis and consideration of non-gender specific alternatives.” Id at 431.

         An employee is unable to transfer if he or she has a disciplinary record. 8/23/2018 Patterson Dep. at 47. Formal discipline stays on an employee's record for two years, and then, provided there is no further discipline, “falls off.” Id However, because one-for-one transfers are discretionary, the warden would review the discipline and then determine whether to approve the transfer. Id at 49. Seniority-based and close-to-home transfers are not permitted at all if an employee has been disciplined within the last two years. Id

         Kasprzycki was disciplined several times throughout her employment:

• She was disciplined for a refusal to work mandatory overtime on June 3, 2011. MDOC Disciplinary Records, Ex. A to Defs. Mot., at MDOC 01058 (Dkt. 26-2). The reason for her refusal was a bleeding nose.
• She also refused to work mandatory overtime on May 27, 2012. MDOC Disciplinary Records, Ex. B to Defs. Mot., at MDOC 01085 (Dkt. 26-3). Kasprzycki stated that she could not stay due to daycare ...

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