Quinn v. Henry Ford Health System
ORDER Denying 53 Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by District Judge Victoria A. Roberts. (LVer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 15-10653
Honorable Victoria A. Roberts
HENRY FORD HEALTH SYSTEM,
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [Doc. 53]
On December 22, 2016, the Court entered an order granting in part Henry Ford
Health System’s (“HFHS”) motion for summary judgment and denying Qiana Quinn’s
motion for summary judgment. Quinn’s claims for pregnancy discrimination and
pregnancy retaliation under Title VII and Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act
(“ELCRA”) – Counts 1-4 in the second amended complaint – survived summary
judgment. HFHS moves for reconsideration, arguing that the Court should dismiss
these remaining claims. [Doc. 53].
Local Rule 7.1(h)(3) provides the Court's standard of review for a motion for
Generally, and without restricting the court’s discretion, the court will not
grant motions for ... reconsideration that merely present the same issues
ruled upon by the court, either expressly or by reasonable implication.
The movant must not only demonstrate a palpable defect by which the
court and the parties and other persons entitled to be heard on the motion
have been misled but also show that correcting the defect will result in a
different disposition of the case.
E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(h)(3). Palpable defects are those which are “obvious, clear,
unmistakable, manifest or plain.” Mich. Dep’t of Treasury v. Michalec, 181 F. Supp. 2d
731, 734 (E.D. Mich. 2002). “It is an exception to the norm for the Court to grant a
motion for reconsideration.” Maiberger v. City of Livonia, 724 F. Supp. 2d 759, 780
(E.D. Mich. 2010). “[A]bsent a significant error that changes the outcome of a ruling on
a motion, the Court will not provide a party with an opportunity to relitigate issues
already decided.” Id.
HFHS says the Court committed two palpable defects: (1) the Court used the
wrong standard for Quinn’s discrimination claims – i.e., the Court compared Quinn to a
person whose ability to work or not work was not similar to Quinn’s; and (2) Quinn’s
action of informing Ruffin she was pregnant did not constitute protected activity for
purposes of her retaliation claims.
HFHS’s first alleged defect pertains to Counts 1 and 3, pregnancy discrimination,
and is baseless. Although Quinn’s counsel compared Quinn to Marsack – whose ability
to work was not similar to Quinn’s – the Court did not adopt this standard as HFHS
asserts. The Court found that Quinn’s discrimination claims survived summary
judgment because genuine issues of material fact existed which would allow a
reasonable jury to conclude that Ruffin rescinded the promotion because Quinn was
pregnant in violation of Title VII and the ELCRA. If the jury believes Quinn’s
presentation of the facts, Marsack and her abilities would not be relevant.
HFHS’s second argument pertains to Counts 2 and 4, retaliation, and is correct:
as a matter of law, simply informing Ruffin she was pregnant does not constitute a
protected activity under Title VII or the ELCRA. Although HFHS argued generally in its
motion for summary judgment that Quinn did not engage in protected activity, it did not
specifically contend that Quinn’s act of informing Ruffin she was pregnant was not a
protected activity. Nevertheless, the Court finds it appropriate to address this argument
at this juncture. To assure Quinn was not prejudiced, the Court allowed her to respond.
The matter is fully briefed.
In order to make a prima facie case of retaliation, Quinn must show that: (1) she
engaged in protected activity; (2) HFHS knew she exercised her civil rights; (3) HFHS
took an adverse employment action against her; and (4) there was a causal connection
between her exercise of protected activity and the adverse employment action. Wasek
v. Arrow Energy Servs., Inc., 682 F.3d 463, 468-69 (6th Cir. 2012).
“Under Title VII, there are two types of protected activity: participation in a
proceeding with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and
opposition to an apparent Title VII violation.” Id. at 469. See also 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–
3(a) (“It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate
against any of his employees or applicants for employment . . . because he has
opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this subchapter, or
because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an
investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter.”). Retaliation under the
ELCRA is materially the same as under Title VII. See Mich. Comp. Laws § 37.2701(a).
Quinn’s act of telling Ruffin she was pregnant does not constitute opposing an
unlawful employment practice, and she did not file an EEOC complaint until well after
Ruffin made the employment decision. As a matter of law, Quinn did not engage in
protected activity when she told Ruffin she was pregnant.
In response to HFHS’s motion for reconsideration, Quinn says she “opposed Ms.
Ruffin’s stated predisposition to not promote her, in violation of Title VII and ELCRA
because [she] was pregnant, by requesting to be promoted despite being pregnant.”
[Doc. 70, PgID 2012]. This sets forth an arguable claim of retaliation. Viewing the facts
and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to Quinn, a reasonable jury
could find that: (1) after Ruffin told Quinn that her pregnancy threw “a little curve in the
thing,” Quinn contacted or attempted to contact Ruffin multiple times requesting to be
promoted despite being pregnant (i.e., protected activity); and (2) because Quinn
requested to be promoted despite being pregnant, Ruffin rescinded the promotion
and/or did not offer her the position (i.e., adverse action and causal connection).
Although Quinn did not specifically plead these allegations in her second
amended complaint, the Court construes Quinn’s response liberally as an amendment
to her pleading; this is appropriate considering HFHS did not raise this particular
argument in its motion for summary judgment, and because discovery arguably
supports this claim of retaliation. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) (“a party may amend its
pleading . . . with . . . the court’s leave. The court should freely give leave when justice
so requires.”). See also Rule 15(b)(1) (“If, at trial, a party objects that evidence is not
within the issues raised in the pleadings, the court may permit the pleadings to be
amended. The court should freely permit an amendment when doing so will aid in
presenting the merits and the objecting party fails to satisfy the court that the evidence
would prejudice that party's action or defense on the merits.”).
The Court DENIES HFHS’s motion for reconsideration [Doc. 53].
IT IS ORDERED.
S/Victoria A. Roberts
Victoria A. Roberts
United States District Judge
Dated: January 18, 2017
The undersigned certifies that a copy of this
document was served on the attorneys of
record by electronic means or U.S. Mail on
January 18, 2017.
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