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Stevens v. Concentrix Corp.

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

December 11, 2019

TIFFANY STEVENS, Plaintiff,
v.
CONCENTRIX CORPORATION, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL DISMISSAL CONSTRUED AS A MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#4]

          GERSHWIN A. DRAIN U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before the Court is Defendant Concentrix Corporation's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, filed on June 26, 2019. Defendant's filing was originally brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In Defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal, Defendant argued that Plaintiff's Title VII and ADA claims are barred because Plaintiff failed to file a timely charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

         In response to Defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal, Plaintiff submitted an affidavit along with argument asserting that she began the process for filing a charge within 300 days of her termination, continued to participate in the EEOC process and then executed a charge. As such, Plaintiff maintained that she had exhausted her administrative remedies contrary to Defendant's argument. Because Plaintiff's affidavit was a matter outside of the pleadings but had direct bearing on the exhaustion of administrative remedies issue, the Court determined that it was appropriate to convert Defendant's Motion for Partial Dismissal into a Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 8, PageID.122. The Court also provided the parties with an opportunity to engage in discovery related to the exhaustion of administrative remedies issue. Id.

         The parties have submitted supplemental briefing (ECF Nos. 10-11, 13). A hearing on this matter was held on December 10, 2019. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff began working for Defendant as a customer service representative in August of 2016. In early 2016, Plaintiff became pregnant. Plaintiff gave birth to a son in October of 2016. After the birth of her son, Plaintiff developed post-partum depression. Plaintiff returned to work in February of 2017.

         By June of 2017, Plaintiff's post-partum depression had escalated to the point where she had thoughts of harming herself. Plaintiff sent an email to her supervisor, Dan Keehlisen, and a human resources representative, Lynn Dolson, describing her post-partum depression, including her suicidal thoughts. Plaintiff advised Keehlisen and Dolson that her post-partum depression made her subject to tardiness. Keehlisen and Dolson urged Plaintiff to get help, and to apply for intermittent leave under the FMLA to cover instances of tardiness, as well as therapy appointments. Plaintiff applied and was approved for intermittent FMLA leave.

         During the time that Plaintiff was approved for intermittent FMLA leave, she applied for a promotion. Plaintiff's promotion was denied by her supervisor, Christina Tipton, who told her that “when you start to feel better and back to your old self we can look into promoting you.”

         On October 20, 2017, Defendant terminated Plaintiff. Keehlisen advised Plaintiff that the termination was due to her tardiness and that it did not matter that she was taking intermittent FMLA leave.

         Plaintiff went to the EEOC to file a charge of discrimination against Defendant on July 26, 2018. ECF No. 11-4, PageID.211. An EEOC agent advised Plaintiff that the procedure to initiate a charge was to submit an EEOC Inquiry Questionnaire. Id. Plaintiff filled out the form indicating that:

I was fired from my job due to factors stemming from post-partum depression. My FMLA was approved due to my post-partum depression and the employer failed to accommodate my disability.
I was told that my attendance was the reason that I was being terminated.

ECF No. 10-2, PageID.154. She also indicated on the form that she was represented by counsel. Id. at PageID.155. The EEOC Inquiry Questionnaire form states on each page in capital letters: THIS QUESTIONNAIRE IS NOT A CHARGE OF DISCRIMINATION. Id. at PageID.152.

         On August 2, 2018, EEOC investigator Anthony Warren sent Plaintiff an email confirming receipt of the Inquiry Questionnaire. ECF No. 10-3, PageID.159. In his email, Warren indicated that he would like to discuss the matter with her. Id. He warned her that she should contact him “as soon as possible” because the “EEOC has a statute of limitations of 300 days (10 months) from the last date of ...


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