United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
D. DWAYNE TUCKER, Plaintiff,
VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA, INC., NICK CARDONI, and DAKO RESOURCES, INC., Defendants.
Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [39, 40, 43] AND DENYING AS MOOT
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
J. MICHELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dwayne Tucker has diabetes that he says impacts his vision.
He worked as a customer experience specialist for a Porsche
customer call center. Porsche is an affiliate of Volkswagen.
Tucker was placed at Porsche's call center through DAKO
Resources, a staffing agency contracted to provide workers
for Volkswagen. After only three months on the job,
Volkswagen asked DAKO to end Tucker's placement. Soon
after, Tucker sued Volkswagen, DAKO, and a manager at the
Porsche call center. Tucker alleged all Defendants denied him
a reasonable accommodation, created a hostile work
environment, and had a neutral policy-discouraging public
transit-that had a disparate impact on him.
parties conducted discovery and, eventually, all Defendants
moved for summary judgment. Tucker did not respond to those
motions. But he did move for partial summary judgment on an
ancillary issue. Upon review of the record, for the reasons
that follow, Defendants have met their summary judgment
burden. So Tucker's claims will be dismissed and his
motion denied as moot.
April 2016, DAKO Resources Group informed D. Dwayne Tucker
about a job opportunity with Porsche, an affiliate of
Volkswagen. (ECF No. 39, PageID.872.) Volkswagen was seeking
customer experience specialists, people “empowered to
‘do what it takes' to leave a customer with the
very best impression” of the brand. (Id. at
PageID.873.) Although “[d]elivering exceptional
customer experiences” was the job's “only
priority[, ]” Volkswagen also indicated an essential
function of the job would be to “[p]roperly document
customer information in[to]” Porsche's customer
got the job. (ECF No. 39, PageID.583.) He started on May 23,
time Tucker spent as a customer experience specialist, he
struggled. (See ECF No. 39, PageID.585; see
also ECF No. 39-7.) According to Tucker, he struggled
most with the customer database. Tucker had “low
vision, ” a condition he says was made worse by his
diabetes. (Id. at PageID.617.) As a result, he had
trouble reading customer data as it appeared on the Avaya
program. (Id. at PageID.607, 612-613.) Avaya was the
call management application Volkswagen used to manage and
distribute workflow among the customer experience
specialists. (Id. at PageID. 578.) The customer
experience specialists, like Tucker, were supposed to use
customer information to input customer contacts into
Porsche's' customer database.
To better see the customer data, Tucker asked for larger font
sizes on his Avaya system. More specifically, Tucker wanted
the customer phone number on the Avaya system to be in a
larger font. (Id. at PageID.637-638.) But neither
Volkswagen nor DAKO would accommodate his request.
(Id.) Because he had trouble using Avaya, Tucker had
problems entering data into Porsche's customer database.
time at Porsche, Tucker experienced other problems as well.
Tucker rode the bus to work. (ECF No. 29, PageID.703.) And he
believes Volkswagen and DAKO had a problem with that.
(Id. at PageID.703-704.) Specifically, a Volkswagen
employee named Nick Cardoni frequently brought up the fact
that Tucker relied on public transit. (Id. at
PageID.708.) Cardoni would say things like “Hey Dennis,
what's going on with transportation, what's up with
the car situation.” (Id. at PageID.705.)
Tucker interpreted Cardoni's comments as an unnecessary
injection of race into the workplace. (Id. at
PageID.703-704.) As Tucker put it, “many people like
myself from Detroit, dark skin, we have to ride the bus out
there for various reasons, and the fact that I had to ride
the bus and did not have a car, Mr. Cardoni took issue with
less than three months on the job, Volkswagen asked DAKO to
transfer Tucker out of the Porsche call center. (Id.
at PageID.409, 627.) Tucker's time in the call center
came to an end on August 15, 2016.
on all of the above, Tucker filed suit against Volkswagen and
DAKO. Initially he brought failure to accommodate claims
under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Michigan's
state-law analogue. Both claims centered on Volkswagen and
DAKO's failure to accommodate Tucker's low vision. In
time, Tucker amended his complaint to add Cardoni and claims
of hostile work environment and disparate impact. The hostile
work environment claim arose out of Cardoni's
interactions with Tucker over public transit and car
ownership. And Tucker alleged Volkswagen and DAKO had a de
facto policy of discouraging public transit, a neutral policy
that nonetheless had a disparate impact on African-Americans.
(Id. at PageID.704-709.)
DAKO, and Cardoni each move for summary judgment. (ECF No.
39, 40, 43.) Tucker did not respond to any of them. He did,
however, move for partial summary judgment on the grounds
that diabetes is a disability for the purposes of the ADA.
judgment is warranted if the moving party shows there are no
genuine disputes of material fact and the moving party
“is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue of material fact exists
“if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). At
this stage, the evidence must be viewed in the light most
favorable to the non-movant. FTC v. E.M.A. Nationwide,
Inc., 767 F.3d 611, 629 (6th Cir. 2014) (internal
quotations and citations omitted). ...