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Foltz v. UAW Local 1264

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

August 21, 2019

JASON FOLTZ, Plaintiff,


          Denise Page Hood United States District Court Judge.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 13, 2018, Plaintiff Jason Foltz (“Foltz”) filed a pro se complaint against Defendants UAW Local 1264 (“UAW”) and Fiat Chrysler America (“FCA”) (collectively, “Defendants”) alleging retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”). (Doc # 1) On February 19, 2019, UAW filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (Doc # 16) Foltz filed a Response on March 1, 2019. (Doc # 19) UAW filed its Reply on March 14, 2019. (Doc # 20) This Motion is currently before the Court and a hearing on this Motion was held on May 8, 2019.

         The facts as alleged in the Complaint are as follows. Foltz is an employee of FCA and a member of UAW. (Doc # 1, Pg ID 6) He began working for FCA in May 1996, and has been a Technical Specialist at its Trenton Engine South Plant since September 27, 2010. (Id.) On January 11, 2011, Foltz was forced out of work on a sickness and accident disability by FCA. (Id. at 6.) After this incident occurred, Foltz filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against FCA under the ADA in 2011. (Id. at 6, 13.) This charge was resolved on July 12, 2012 when the EEOC issued Foltz a “Conciliation Failure” Notice of Right to Sue Letter. (Id.)

         FCA eliminated its Technical Specialist positions in November 2011 following the implementation of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between FCA and UAW. (Id. at 7.) The elimination of the Technical Specialist positions directly affected 37 of FCA's employees. (Id. at 6.) The 37 FCA Technical Specialists were given two options on an election form regarding how they could proceed after their positions were eliminated: (1) enter an apprenticeship program; or (2) return to a non-skilled position with a lower pay rate. (Id. at 6.) Foltz chose to enter the apprentice program and signed the election form on July 18, 2013. (Id. at 19.) Foltz subsequently completed the apprentice program and became a Journeyman Pipefitter at FCA. (Id. at 19, 21.)

         Foltz's election form stated that after he completed his apprenticeship, his seniority date would be the date on which he became a Technical Specialist. (Id.) According to Foltz, his seniority date that he was given following the completion of his apprenticeship did not reflect the agreed upon date that was listed on his election form. (Doc # 19, Pg ID 100) 14 out of 43 pipefitters' seniority dates were incorrect, which was significant because it affected employees' overtime and shift choices. (Doc # 1, Pg ID 7) On March 8, 2018, Foltz filed a grievance pertaining to his seniority date, but UAW withdrew his grievance on April 13, 2018. (Id. at 17.)

         On May 8, 2018, Foltz filed an EEOC retaliation charge against FCA under the ADA and claimed that his seniority status was negatively affected because of the EEOC charge that he filed in 2011. (Id. at 21.) Foltz also filed an EEOC retaliation charge under the ADA against UAW on October 17, 2018. (Id. at 16.) Foltz alleged that UAW did not reopen or properly investigate his grievance that he filed in March 2018 in retaliation for the EEOC charges that he filed against FCA. (Id.)

         Foltz filed his Complaint against FCA and UAW for unlawful retaliation under the ADA. As he did in his EEOC charges, Foltz alleges that FCA amended his seniority status because he previously filed an EEOC claim against it in 2011. (Doc # 1) Further, Foltz asserts that UAW failed to adequately investigate his grievance, which he attributes to his 2011 and 2018 EEOC charges against FCA. (Id.) Foltz argues that Defendants' actions have resulted in him having to deal with various unfavorable personal and physical issues. (Id. at 10.) Foltz additionally contends that his participation in the aforementioned EEOC investigations against Defendants have caused him to be excluded from advancing within FCA, even though he is more qualified than other employees. (Id.)

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Standards of Review 1. Rule 12(c)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) authorizes parties to move for judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Motions for judgement on the pleadings are analyzed under the same standard as motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See Warrior Sports, Inc. v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 623 F.3d 281, 284 (6th Cir. 2010). “For purposes of a motion for judgment on the pleadings, all well-pleaded material allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party must be taken as true, and the motion may be granted only if the moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to judgment.” Id.

         In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the Supreme Court explained that “a plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .” Id. at 555. A plaintiff's factual allegations, while “assumed to be true, must do more than create speculation or suspicion of a legally cognizable cause of action; they must show entitlement to relief.” LULAC v. Bredesen, 500 F.3d 523, 527 (6th Cir. 2007) (emphasis in original) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “To state a valid claim, a complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements to sustain recovery under some viable legal theory.” Bredesen, 500 F.3d at 527 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 562).

         When deciding a 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, as a general rule, matters outside the pleadings may not be considered unless the motion is converted to one for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. See Weiner v. Klais & Co., 108 F.3d 86, 88 (6th Cir. 1997). The Court may, however, consider “the Complaint and any exhibits attached thereto, public records, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to defendant's motion to dismiss so long as they are referred to in the Complaint and are central to the claims contained therein.” Id. at 89.

         2. Pro ...

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