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Roseman v. International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (Uaw), FCA US, LLC

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

September 17, 2019

JOHN L. ROSEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED AUTOMOBILE, AEROSPACE AND AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT WORKERS OF AMERICA UAW, FCA US, LLC, UAW LOCAL 1700, and UAW LOCAL 140, Defendants.

          David R. Grand, Magistrate Judge.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS, AND DENYING MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

          DAVID M. LAWSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff John Roseman, employed at the Sterling Heights, Michigan Chrysler (FCA US, LLC) assembly plant, crossed paths with a difficult co-worker, which caused him such stress that he took a worker's compensation leave and declined to return to work when a company doctor pronounced him fit. Believing that the company's and his union's response to the perceived harassment was insufficient, Roseman brought suit for discrimination and retaliation under federal law and also asserted a variety of state law claims. He also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, which brings that matter before the Court presently. The case was referred to Magistrate Judge David Grand for general case management. Judge Grand filed a report recommending that the motion be denied. Roseman, acting pro se, filed a motion for reconsideration, which the Court will construe as objections to the report and recommendation, arguing that the magistrate incorrectly addressed one of the four factors bearing on issuance of a preliminary injunction: irreparable harm. He did not object to the discussion of the other factors, including perhaps the most important one, namely, that he likely would not succeed on the merits. The four factors, considered together, do not favor the issuance of injunctive relief. Therefore, the Court will overrule Roseman's objections, adopt Judge Grand's report and recommendation, and deny the motion for an injunction.

         I.

         Roseman seeks an injunction that requires Chrysler, “it's [sic] agents, and or employees to immediately cease harassment of Plaintiff and interference with his prescribed medical treatment . . ., immediately cease it's [sic] outrageous, perfunctory, and unusually negligent behavior in trying to induce Plaintiff to return to a hostile work environment . . ., [and r]equire Defendant FCA U.S. LLC and its employees and/or agents to discontinue threatening to discharge Plaintiff for not returning to a hostile work environment cultivated by Defendants FCA U.S. LLC and UAW.” ECF No. 15, Page.ID.231. The magistrate judge recommended denial of the motion mainly because he believed that Roseman could not show irreparable injury, but he also found no likelihood of success on the merits.

         According to the complaint and motion papers, Roseman is an African-American man over the age of forty, who has been employed by Chrysler for twenty years. Almost immediately upon being transferred to Chrysler's Sterling Heights assembly plant, Roseman alleges, he witnessed another employee at the plant, Dominik Amond, engage in a “constant campaign of harassment, coercion, intimidation, and threating behavior toward co-workers and supervisors alike . . .” Am. Compl. ECF No. 1, PageID.4. Roseman contends that he eventually became the focus of Amond's harassment, resulting in the plaintiff developing acute anxiety and experiencing severe emotional distress. Roseman subsequently filed this employment case pro se against Chrysler and his union, the International United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) and two Locals, alleging that the defendants declined to take any action against Amond because of plaintiff's age, race and gender. Additionally, Roseman pleaded various other claims against his employer and union, including intentional infliction of emotional distress, retaliation, negligent retention of an employee, and defamation.

         In his complaint, Roseman alleges that this is not Amond's first time exhibiting inappropriate behavior towards other employees. Around the same time the plaintiff was transferred to the Sterling Heights plant, a Chrysler employee by the name of Kyanne Gaddis “advised FCA management that Dominik Amond threatened her and that she ‘feared for her life.'” ECF No. 1, PageID.6. Security personnel were called to the scene and after investigating the alleged threat, Amond was disciplined and Gaddis was transferred to a different shift “for her protection.” Ibid. Similarly, Roseman also contends that this is not the first time Chrysler has failed to take corrective action regarding one of its coworkers, as he was harassed by another employee, Darlene Ark, for over a year beginning in 2015.

         Roseman identifies late July as the turning point in his relationship with Amond. The plaintiff states that he was filling in as team leader on July 25, 2018, which Amond immediately took issue with, sending a message in a work group text saying, “I guess since we got a new [team leader] for this week it comes with new rules and micro management.” ECF No. 1, PageID.74. The plaintiff also states that Amond was angered by his decision to follow Chrysler supervisor's orders to allocate additional manpower to a specific area in the plant by “mak[ing] it clear to plaintiff through hostility, coercion, intimidation, and threatening behavior that he is not going to allow plaintiff to do his job as ordered . . .” ECF No. 1, PageID.7. The plaintiff states that he was prevented from doing his job because Amond would not allow other employees to work in his space. ECF No.1, PageID.8. Chrysler supervisors subsequently confronted Amond, and when the plaintiff joined the conversation, he alleges, Amond “became visually agitated and commenced to lash out at plaintiff directly but retreated.” Ibid.

         The following day, July 26, 2018, Amond continued to express his displeasure with Roseman, texting “[s]tay woke everyone john the reason we all having a meeting and finna get watched masking” and “[r]ember every be on time y'all kno who made it hot up there so stay woke.” Additionally, the plaintiff contends that Amond showed “physical aggression and hostility” when he “rushe[d] up from about 20 yards away . . . yelling ‘what's going on?'” Roseman sent an email to Chrysler supervisor Jana Hines asking her to intervene the in situation, attaching screenshots of the text messages identified above. Hines later responded to the plaintiff assuring him that action would be taken and stating “[n]o one should have to work like this.” ECF No. 1, PageID.84.

         Later in his shift, the plaintiff was summoned to a conference room with Hines and UAW representative Keith Hall. During the meeting Roseman further explained his concerns about Amond's “campaign of harassment, ” and he alleges, Hines agreed that Amond would be immediately removed from the area and disciplined. Hall expressed more reservations, stating that he did not want to deal with Chrysler Labor Relations representative Cynthia Johnson because he had recently lost a battle with her over a previous employee, but nonetheless agreed with Hines's conclusion that action needed to be taken. Roseman was then asked to send Amond to the union office, which he did. However, hours later, Roseman observed Amond still working in the plant and in an area even closer to Roseman than before. Upon realizing that Amond had not been removed from the area as promised by Hines and Hall, Roseman says he became “traumatized and immensely distressed.” ECF No. 1, PageID.11.

         Roseman was then summoned to the union office, where, he alleges, Hall described him as an “old head.” ECF No. 1, PageID.12. In the meeting, Hall also told him that the plan to remove and discipline Amond was rejected by the UAW Chief Eddie Smith. Roseman contends that the UAW did not want to pursue action against Amond because the only Chrysler labor representative available was Cynthia Johnson, and because the union was worried that Chrysler supervisors would use disciplinary action taken against Amond as a precedent for disciplining other union members. Based on this theory, Roseman concluded that the UAW had breached its duty to him by “decid[ing] . . . that plaintiff would be collateral damage.” ECF No. 1, PageID.13. Roseman contends that the stress caused by the dispute was so great that he decided to take leave and did not return to work after July 26. He did, however, reach out to Chrysler supervisor Hines on July 28, 2018, still confused about why Amond was not removed from his area. Hines told Roseman that Hall and Johnson thought Amond was not aggressive enough to remove and that “[t]hey need more.” ECF No. 1, PageID.85.

         Roseman originally was placed on workers compensation following his leave of absence, but was notified on October 22, 2018 by Sedgwick, Chrylser's third party administrator, that he would have to undergo an independent medical examination to determine his eligibility for disability benefits. Mot. TRO, ECF No. 15, PageID.252. Roseman reported to Dr. Neil Talon on October 30, 2018, who ultimately concluded that Roseman's mental state would not affect his ability to work. Dr. Talon characterized the plaintiff's issue as “more of a legal or human resources issues” and “not an active psychiatric problem.” Am. Compl., ECF No. 40-1, PageID.704. Subsequently, Roseman received notice from Sedgewick on November 1, 2018 that Dr. Talon had cleared him to return to work, and that if he failed to do so his healthcare benefits would be terminated. In response, Roseman asserted that Dr. Talon “had no intentions of rendering an objective, ethical or ‘appropriate' decision” because Dr. Talon refused to review additional medical documents that plaintiff brought to his examination and was allegedly rude to the plaintiff. Roseman never returned to work at the Sterling Heights plant, stating that he fears for his personal safety and is in imminent danger of physical and mental problems due to the hostile work environment. ECF No. 15, PageID.230. However, the magistrate judge notes that at oral argument on the motion, Roseman acknowledged that Chrysler offered to return him to his duty station with Amond transferred elsewhere so they would not be working together.

         In his complaint, Roseman alleges that the defendants violated the Employment Act of 1967 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting him to age and sex discrimination, as well as retaliation and a hostile work environment. He also stated claims for negligent retention of an employee, breach of duty of fair representation, libel, vicarious liability, and intentional infliction of emotion distress. As noted, the Court issued an order referring the case to Magistrate Judge Grand for general case management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).

         On November 2, 2018 the plaintiff filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. The defendants responded, and the magistrate judge held a hearing on the motion on November 13, 2018, and subsequently issued a report and recommendation three days later. The plaintiff did not file objections, but he did file a motion for reconsideration, which ...


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