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MacEachern v. Creative Solutions Group, Inc.

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

November 1, 2019



          Denise Page Hood, United States District Court Judge.


         On August 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed a four-count Complaint alleging that Defendant discriminated against her on the basis of her pregnancy and sex, in violation of Title VII and the Michigan Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”). On May 17, 2019, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, and the Motion has been fully briefed. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the Motion for Summary Judgment.


         Plaintiff applied to Defendant for an Administrative Assistant position in March 2018, when Defendant was looking for someone with one to three years administrative experience, whose qualifications included an understanding of Microsoft Office suite and proficiency in Word and Excel. ECF No. 14-2, PgID 76. Plaintiff interviewed for the position and, before Defendant hired her, took a “standardized test” or assessment given by Defendant that is a “profile and covers six cognitive and 10 behavioral traits” and “ranges from comprehension abilities, mathematical applications, basic like word processing, comprehension.” ECF No. 17-4, PgID 252-53 (at 9-10); ECF No. 17-5, PgID 275 (at 9).

         Defendant hired Plaintiff on April 2, 2018, as a Production/Field Ops Assistant. Plaintiff received compliments from Grace Goodman (“Goodman”) (a non-management, administrative employee responsible for training Plaintiff), Rick Roberts (“Roberts”) (the Vice President of Field Ops), and other employees. She was told “good job” and “you're doing well” a couple of times a week. ECF No. 17, Ex. A. (at 119-21). Plaintiff was never told she was not meeting expectations or that she could be fired because she was performing so poorly.

         Plaintiff told Defendant's employees that she was pregnant on April 20, 2018. Id. at 195-96. Rachel McCurtie (“McCurtie”) (one of Plaintiff's human resources contacts) treated Plaintiff differently after Plaintiff announced her pregnancy. McCurtie stopped being nice to Plaintiff, was “standoffish, ” avoided Plaintiff, and stopped answering her questions. Id. at 43, 206. McCurtie and Plaintiff sat together at lunch prior to Plaintiff revealing to McCurtie that Plaintiff was pregnant but then McCurtie stopped sitting with Plaintiff. Id. at 207-08.

         On April 24, 2018, four days after Plaintiff disclosed her pregnancy, Defendant decided to terminate Plaintiff. ECF No. 17, Ex. G. Prior to announcing her pregnancy, Plaintiff was never told she was not performing well, nor were any concerns expressed about Plainitff's ability to do the job. Rather, Plaintiff was consistently praised and told that she was doing good work. Id. at 119-21.

         Michael Goree (“Goree”), Defendant's head of human resources, was responsible for helping with employee challenges, development, coaching, and decision making. ECF No. 17, Ex. D (at 6). Goree, Roberts and Loretta Stempien (“Stempien”) (the Executive Assistant and Administrative Supervisor) did not have any conversations regarding Plaintiff and her performance prior to Plaintiff informing Defendant of her pregnancy, id. at 14, 31, and the only time they met about Plaintiff was after Plaintiff informed Defendant she was pregnant. Goree “did not recall” the conversation but did recall that Roberts and Stempien advised him they wanted to terminate Plaintiff. Id. at 19.

         Goree told Goodman and Stempien to document reasons that supported the decision to terminate Plaintiff. Id. at 22, 36. Goodman created “Performance Notes: Meagan MacEachern” on April 26, 2018 and Stempien created “Meagan MacEachern-Admin Staff Observations” on April 26, 2018. ECF No. 17, Ex. H. The purported performance issues regarding Plaintiff documented on April 26, 2018, were the first such documented issues regarding Plaintiff's performance. They were created subsequent to Plaintiff informing Defendant of her pregnancy and Defendant decided it would terminate Plaintiff. ECF No. 17, Ex. H; Ex. C (at 58-59, 61).

         Plaintiff had the shortest tenure in the “production assistant” role at 25 days. ECF No. 17, Ex. I. There were two other “production assistants” prior to Plaintiff who were terminated after brief tenures: Suzanne Daher (“Daher”) and Lindsay Miller (“Miller”). Id. Plaintiff was the only one of those three briefly tenured “production assistants” who was pregnant. (Ex. D, pp. 25-29)(Ex. C, pp. 78-83). Daher was an employee that Defendant claimed was not living up to its expectations, but she was given approximately ten weeks to improve in her role. ECF No. 14, PgID 70. Miller was employed by Defendant for several months, even though she was an alleged “problem” employee who did not seem to grasp Goodman's training. ECF No. 17, Ex. J. Miller was given 13 weeks to try and learn the role. (Ex. I). Plaintiff was given four days to improve and learn the role before Defendant decided to terminate her.


         Rule 56(a) of the Rules of Civil Procedures provides that the court “shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The presence of factual disputes will preclude granting of summary judgment only if the disputes are genuine and concern material facts. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” only if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. Although the Court must view the motion in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, where “the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Summary judgment must be entered against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be “no genuine issue as to any material fact, ” since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. A court must look to the substantive law to identify which facts are material. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         IV. ...

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