United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
K. Majzoub, U.S. Magistrate Judge
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY
J. TARNOW, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Brown, an African American woman, was employed as a
protective service officer (“PSO”) at the Patrick
V. McNamara federal building in Detroit until her employment
was terminated on December 11, 2014. On December 3, 2014,
Officer Brown was involved in an altercation with an
immigration attorney who entered the building on business.
Both the Federal Protective Services (“FPS”) and
her employer - the contractor Centerra Group - investigated
the incident. Following the investigation, Officer Brown was
terminated. She then grieved her termination through a
union-sponsored arbitration. The arbitrator found that she
was terminated without just cause and ordered backpay and
reinstatement. Because she has yet to complete required
training and paperwork, Officer Brown has not been
brought this suit alleging that she was fired in retaliation
for filing an EEOC complaint and on account of her sex and
race. Defendants have moved for summary judgment, arguing
that Officer Brown was fired because of her conduct, not
because of any protected characteristic. For the reasons
discussed below, the Motion for Summary Judgment  will be
PSO, Cynthia Brown, had worked for Defendant Centerra Group,
LLC, since it - then branded G4S Government Solutions - took
over the contract for security services from DECO, her
previous employer, at the Patrick V. McNamara federal
building in 2014. Plaintiff had previously filed an EEOC
complaint against a number of her supervisors from DECO who
continued to act as her supervisors in Centerra. One of the
allegations in the EEOC complaint was that Defendant Michael
Szymanski, her supervisor, made a racist statement when he
reminisced about working in Hamtramck, where one could beat
people with hoses. (Dkt. 57-2, Pl. Ex. 1, Deposition of
Cynthia Brown at 270).
December 3, 2014, at around 11:00 a.m., Officer Brown left
her position to drink some water. (Brown Dep. 172). Brown was
assigned to the controller spot, while PSO Donovan Hollis was
in the greeter’s spot. Due to a miscommunication, where
Brown failed to relay to Hollis to “hold the line,
” no one was there to screen attorney Oana Marina when
she came into the building. Marina took off her shoes to pass
through the metal detector, placed them on the belt, and then
by her own affidavit was waiting by the belt for the shoes to
come through when Officer Brown accosted her. (Dkt. 46-6;
Def. Ex. E).
point the facts become disputed. Officer Brown maintains that
Marina attempted to run her shoes through the x-ray machine
herself, and then when Officer Brown confronted her and asked
her to proceed to the end of the table, Marina became
physically and verbally combative, causing Officer Brown to
apply minimal amounts of force to shepherd her to the end of
the table. Officer Brown testified that she overheard Marina
confessing to FPS officers that she had had a few cocktails
over lunch. (Brown Dep. 339). This detail did not make it
into the FPS report.
recounted that she was pushed from behind by Officer Brown,
away from the x-ray machine, and then exchanged words with
Officer Brown over her rudeness, including a threat to report
her to a superior. (Dkt. 46-6; Def. Ex. E). Then, after she
walked away and assumed that she was free to proceed, Brown
and a male PSO grabbed her from behind, pushed her against
the wall, and handcuffed her, resulting in injury. Marina
denied drinking alcohol that day. (Id.).
Donovan Hollis, Kenneth Davis, and Everette Wilson, all of
whom were also PSOs on duty and participated in
Marina’s arrest, submitted statements as part of the
G4S investigation. They both described how Marina walked
through the metal detector unbidden and then became verbally
aggressive when Officer Brown asked her to move down to the
end of the table, at which point she began screaming. (Dkt.
57-11, Pl. Ex. 8; Dkt. 57-14, Pl. Ex. 10(B); Dkt. 57-15; Pl.
Ex. 11). By their accounts, Marina was asked to leave the
building, refused, and was then handcuffed and turned over to
the custody of FPS. (Id.).
thereafter prepared an incident report based on a review of
the video footage of the incident and interviews with the
officers and Marina. (Dkt. 46-14, Def. Ex. M, PageID
932-933). That report suggested that Officer Brown was
“engaged in conversation” away from her post with
PSOs Davis and Wilson when Marina went through the metal
detector and set off the alarm. It notes, based on the video,
that Officer Brown took Marina’s tub of personal items
and slammed it down on the furthest table from Marina. It
further alleges that Officer Brown then pointed to the end of
the table, and, when Marina did not move,
“shove[d]” the attorney with her right arm.
Marina then took out a notepad and jotted down something,
stopped to say something after gathering her belongings, and
then began walking into the building. Brown and Wilson
stopped screening to try to get Marina’s attention, and
when they could not they followed her out of range of the
camera. When FPS agents encountered Marina, she was crying,
her face was cut, and her wrists were bruised from the
Post-Inspection Form was emailed from Joe Lang, the
Contracting Officers’ Representative of the FPS. The
email noted that “two negative 2820s” were
attached regarding PSOs Brown and Wilson. The email asked for
a response by close-of-business December 11, 2014. (Dkt.
46-4, Def. Ex. C., PageID 698).
December 11, 2014, a letter from Mark Carruthers of the
Washington Operations branch of G4S sent Officer Brown a
letter that as a result of the incident, her employment was
to be terminated on December 11, 2014. (Dkt. 46-7; Def. Ex.
F). Officer Brown’s union contested the termination and
filed a grievance on December 16, 2014, which went to
arbitration pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement.
An arbitration hearing was held on May 4, 2016, with both
parties represented by counsel. Centerra Group argued to the
arbitrator that Officer Brown had committed four serious
infractions of work rules in the Discipline Matrix, including
failing to take appropriate action for the safety of the
client, violating security procedures, being inattentive to
duty, and disorderly conduct. (Dkt. 57-5, Pl. Ex. 4, pg. 9).
Because the arbitrator who conducted the hearing died, a new
arbitrator was chosen by the parties to render a decision.
April 11, 2017, that arbitrator, Stanley Dobrey, decided that
Centerra had failed to present adequate proof that Officer
Brown even committed an infraction. (Id. at 29). He
noted that Centerra had inexplicably lost or failed to record
its conversations with Oana Marina, and that it had produced
only hearsay to rebut Officer Brown’s version of the
facts, that she applied minimal force to a recalcitrant
visitor after returning from a permitted water break. (Dkt.
46-8; Def. Ex. G).
the pendency of the arbitration, Officer Brown obtained a few
part-time jobs, including substitute teaching positions at
several schools and a temporary position at TJ Maxx. (Brown
Dep. pg. 57-58). She eventually settled on a part time
position at Wayne County Community College as a security
guard. (Id.). The position was subsequently expanded
to full-time, though her salary seems to have remained lower
than what it would have been at Centerra. (Id. at
Arbitrator ordered that the termination be set aside, and
that Officer Brown be reinstated with backpay. Officer Brown
deposited the check for backpay in the amount of $78, 043.25.
She has not been reinstated, however, because she has not
filled out required paperwork, nor completed required
training. (Dkt. 46-10; Ex. I). Officer Brown, in her emails
with her supervisors, expressed difficulty with getting away
from her job at Wayne County Community College to attend
trainings scheduled in July of 2017. (Dkt. 46-10, Def. Ex. I;
Dkt. 57-17, Pl. Ex. 14).
Plaintiff filed her Complaint on August 11, 2017. [Dkt. # 1].
She filed an Amended Complaint  on November 14, 2017.
Discovery opened on March 28, 2018 and closed on September 7,
2018. On November 8, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment . That motion was fully briefed, and a
hearing was held on September 5, 2019.
judgment is appropriate “if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Movant bears the burden of establishing
that there are no genuine issues of material fact, which may
be accomplished by demonstrating that the non-movant lacks
evidence to support an essential element of his case.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
Non-movant cannot rest on the pleadings and must show more
than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd., 475
U.S. at 586-87. Non-movant must “go beyond the
pleadings and by . . . affidavits, or by the