Beim v. Henry Ford Health System
OPINION & ORDER Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 21 ). Signed by District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith. (KSan)
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1114 Filed 11/18/21 Page 1 of 16
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Civil Action No. 20-CV-13054
HON. MARK A. GOLDSMITH
HENRY FORD HEALTH SYSTEM,
OPINION & ORDER
GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Dkt. 21)
Plaintiff Inna Beim brings this action under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
against her former employer, Defendant Henry Ford Health System, for, allegedly, failing to
accommodate her disability and retaliating against her after she requested accommodations. This
matter is now before the Court on Henry Ford’s motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 21). For the
reasons that follow, the Court grants the motion.1
Beim was employed by Henry Ford as a Clinical Quality Facilitator from September 2016
until May 31, 2019. HFHS Documents at HFHS208 (Dkt. 21-5). She went on medical leave on
January 30, 2019 to have surgery for a herniated cervical disk and recuperate. She returned to
work on April 22, 2019. As explained below, Beim requested several pieces of office equipment
to accommodate her disability; Henry Ford had provided or was in the process of providing each
Beim filed a response (Dkt. 22), and Henry Ford filed a reply (Dkt. 28). Because oral argument
will not aid the Court’s decisional process, the motion will be decided based on the parties’
briefing. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2); Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b).
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1115 Filed 11/18/21 Page 2 of 16
of these requested items when Beim resigned on May 14, 2019.
A. Accommodation Requests and Fulfillments
On March 13, 2019, while Beim was still out on medical leave, she texted her supervisor,
Emily Nerreter, asking for a standing desk upon her return to work. HFHS Documents at
The next day, Nerreter reached out to Henry Ford’s Disability Management
Coordinator, Lisa Carlisle, for direction. Id. at HFHS90. The following day, Carlisle told
Nerreter that Beim needed to contact CIGNA, Henry Ford’s third-party disability benefits
provider. Id. That same day, Nerreter told Beim to contact CIGNA.
On March 19, after she contacted CIGNA, Beim called Nerreter, requesting a telephone
headset and expressing her frustration that CIGNA had informed Beim that it would not have the
equipment ready for her until after she returned to work, when an onsite assessment could be
conducted. Id. at HFHS95. The following day, Nerreter emailed Carlisle for direction, copying
Nerreter’s supervisor, Colleen Savage. Savage told Nerreter to order a headset without CIGNA’s
involvement. Id. at HFHS96. Carlisle told Nerreter that even though CIGNA typically waits to
conduct an onsite assessment until an employee has returned to work, Carlisle would work with
CIGNA to try to do the assessment ahead of Beim’s return. Id.
On April 4, Alexa McCartney, a CIGNA vocational coach, reported to Henry Ford that she
had been in contact with Beim and was “waiting on additional medical information to determine
next steps.” Id. at HFHS100. On April 9, McCartney told Carlisle that she had received the
additional medical documentation.
Id. at HFHS103.
McCartney stated that although it is
CIGNA’s standard practice to evaluate employees upon their return to work, she could process
Beim’s accommodation request before Beim’s return. Id. McCartney recommended providing
Beim not only with a standing desk, but also with a monitor mount. Id. at HFHS102. On April
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1116 Filed 11/18/21 Page 3 of 16
11, Carlisle forwarded McCartney’s recommendations to Nerreter, asking that Nerreter respond to
McCartney. Id. at HFHS103, 119. Nerreter did so, and also suggested that Beim be provided
with a second monitor. Id. at HFHS119. From April 17–18, McCartney, Carlisle, Nerreter,
Savage, and a hospital administrator (Marilou Diaz) exchanged emails finalizing the equipment to
Id. at HFHS 119–127.
The order was placed on April 18, and on April 19,
McCartney e-mailed Nerreter and Diaz to inform them that the equipment had shipped and would
arrive by the end of the day on April 22, Beim’s first day back.
Id. at HFHS 126–127.
McCartney also called Beim to let her know that the standing desk would not be delivered by April
22. Beim Dep. at 42–43 (Dkt. 21-3). Nerreter told Beim that she could work from home on
April 22. Id. at 43.
When Beim went to work on April 23, the standing desk had been delivered but had not
been assembled. Id. at 46. Beim contacted Maintenance and asked them to assemble the desk,
which Maintenance did later that day. Id. Also on April 23, Nerreter informed Beim that she
would receive the headset on April 25. HFHS Documents at HFHS137. Beim testified that
when the headset was delivered to her on April 25, she asked IT to help her set it up, and she
initially received no response. Beim Dep. at 82–83. Beim asked a few coworkers (who did not
work in IT) to help her, but they all told her to contact IT. Id. at 83. Beim contacted IT again,
but by “the time they repl[ied],” she was “so frustrated” that she called her husband, who came
and set up the headset for her. Id. at 84.
On April 24, Beim sent Nerreter an email asking for a more supportive desk chair. HFHS
Documents at HFHS137. On that same day, Nerreter forwarded Beim’s email to Carlisle, asking
whether CIGNA could help process Beim’s request. Id. at HFHS135. Carlisle told Nerreter to
send the request to CIGNA. Id. Nerreter promptly emailed McCartney, asking her to review
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1117 Filed 11/18/21 Page 4 of 16
Beim’s request and provide a recommendation as to the chair. Id. at HFHS138. McCartney
responded, letting Nerreter know that CIGNA would need to obtain pictures of Beim’s workstation
to review her current set up before approving any changes such as a new chair. Id. at HFHS139.
Kelton Winnega, a Human Resources employee at Henry Ford, took these pictures on April 26.
Winnega Dep. at 14 (Dkt. 21-6). He gave the pictures to Carlisle, who forwarded them to
McCartney; McCartney informed Carlisle that she would “touch base with [Beim] . . . to schedule
[her] ergonomic assessment.”
HFHS Documents at HFHS149.
McCartney conducted the
assessment on May 2. Id. at HFHS463. On May 7, McCartney recommended moving forward
with obtaining a more supportive chair for Beim. Id. at HFHS461. Nerreter approved the
recommendation the same day, id. at HFHS460, and McCartney told Beim that her request for a
chair had been approved, Beim Dep. at 79. McCartney placed the order, saying that she would
try to expedite the shipping if possible. HFHS Documents at HFHS458–459.
Several days after Beim requested the new chair, Nerreter, Carlisle, and Winnega met to
discuss Beim’s status.
Carlisle and Winnega suggested that, in light of Beim’s ongoing
complaints of pain and need for the more supportive chair, Nerreter should speak with Beim
regarding going back on medical leave until the appropriate accommodations were in place.
Nerreter Dep. at 36 (Dkt. 21-4). Beim testified that when she spoke with Nerreter, Nerreter told
Beim that if she wanted the chair, she would need to go back out on medical leave. Beim Dep. at
58–59. Beim contends that Nerreter also told Beim that if Beim planned to stay, she would need
to attend the off-site weekly staff meetings in person, id. at 141, meaning that Beim would need to
drive to those meetings. According to Beim, she was previously given the choice to attend these
meetings either in person or by Skype. Id. at 24. Nerreter testified that she believed that Beim
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1118 Filed 11/18/21 Page 5 of 16
could attend these meetings in person because Beim had not requested any driving-related
accommodation. Nerreter Dep. at 40. Beim also testified that, during this meeting, Nerreter was
condescending, mocking Beim’s accent. Id. at 78. According to Beim, that was the only time
that Nerreter was ever condescending to her. Id. at 130.
After her meeting with Nerreter, Beim reached out to Savage, raising concerns about her
conversation with Nerreter and Nerreter’s condescending behavior. Savage Dep. at 15 (Dkt. 217). During this conversation, Savage told Beim that if she was not happy at Henry Ford, Beim
was free to look for employment elsewhere. Id. at 17.
Two days after Beim spoke with Savage, Beim complained to an employee, Karen Sparks,
about how Nerreter and Savage had treated her. Sparks took notes about this conversation and
shared them with Savage. HFHS Documents at HFHS168. Savage then emailed Beim, asking
her to submit her complaints in writing and reminding her to not discuss her complaints outside of
Human Resources and her direct command, per the employee professional code of conduct. Id.
at HFHS172. Beim submitted a written complaint on May 3. Written Complaint (Dkt. 22-5).
In this written complaint, Beim alleged that Savage threatened to write her up if she continued to
complain to others about the handling of her accommodation requests. Id.
On May 14, Beim told Nerreter that she was resigning, Beim Dep. at 91, and stated that
May 31 would be her last day, HFHS Documents at HFHS208. According to Nerreter, Beim told
her that she was resigning because she had found another job. Nerreter Dep. at 47.
After Beim resigned but before her last day of work, there were concerns that Beim was
not following up with her teammates on the status of her deliverables. Nerreter Dep. at 50. Beim
contends that on May 21, she was locked out of her work computer. Beim Dep. at 112. On that
day, Nerreter met with Beim and told Beim that she would be paid through the end of the month,
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1119 Filed 11/18/21 Page 6 of 16
but that Beim no longer needed to come to work. Id. at 48. Beim was escorted from the building
and told to not return. HFHS Documents at HFHS239. Beim received pay through May 31,
Nerreter Dep. 52, and her personal belongings were mailed to her. Nerreter testified that Beim’s
belongings were in good condition when they were mailed to her, id. at 74, but Beim testified that
one of her items—a sweater from her grandmother—was torn when it arrived, Beim Dep. at 119.
Henry Ford argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on Beim’s failure-toaccommodate claim and her retaliation claim. Each claim is addressed in turn.2
The ADA prohibits discrimination “against a qualified individual on the basis of disability
in regard to . . . [the] terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.” 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a).
Discrimination includes a failure to make “reasonable accommodations to the known physical or
mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability . . . .”
12112(b)(5)(A). To establish a prima facie failure-to-accommodate claim, Beim must show that
(i) she was disabled within the meaning of the ADA; (ii) she was otherwise qualified for her
position, with or without reasonable accommodation; (iii) Henry Ford knew or had reason to know
about her disability; (iv) she requested an accommodation; and (v) Henry Ford failed to provide
the necessary accommodation. Deister v. Auto Club Ins. Ass’n, 647 F. App’x 652, 657 (6th Cir.
The Court applies the traditional summary judgment standard as articulated in Scott v. Harris,
550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). The movant is entitled to summary judgment if that party shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). If the movant makes an initial showing that there is an
absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case, the nonmovant can survive summary
judgment only by coming forward with evidence showing there is a genuine issue for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324–325 (1986).
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1120 Filed 11/18/21 Page 7 of 16
Henry Ford argues that Beim cannot prove the fifth element because Henry Ford had
provided Beim with—or was in the process of obtaining for Beim—all of the requested equipment
(the standing desk, telephone headset, and supportive chair) when Beim resigned. Mot. at 19.
Beim contends that the fifth element is satisfied because Henry Ford failed to “timely” provide her
with the requested equipment, as none of the equipment had arrived by Beim’s first day back to
work, and, when it did arrive, it was not immediately assembled. Resp. at 14.3
An employer’s unreasonable delay may constitute the denial of an accommodation. See
Tchankpa v. Ascena Retail Grp., Inc., 951 F.3d 805, 812–813 (6th Cir. 2020).
“employers need not immediately implement or accept accommodations proposed by an
employee.” Id. As a result, not just any delay can be considered unreasonable as a matter of law.
See id. at 813. In fact, “[a] relatively short delay of a few weeks (or even a few months) in
approving a request typically does not support such a claim.” Marks v. Washington Wholesale
Liquor Co. LLC, 253 F. Supp. 3d 312, 324 (D.D.C. 2017). Ultimately, a delay in providing a
reasonable accommodation is not actionable if “the delay is due to internal processing or to events
outside the employer’s control.” Gerton v. Verizon S. Inc., 145 F. App’x 159, 168 (6th Cir. 2005).
Beim attempts to frame the delay in Henry Ford’s implementation of her requests for a
standing desk and telephone headset as a multi-week delay; that is, Beim suggests the delay ran
from the time that Beim requested these items while she was out on leave in March 2019 to when
Beim’s response brief references her written complaint, in which she stated that she asked
Nerreter for “flexibility to work from home until everything get [sic] situated . . . .” Written
Complaint. However, Beim failed to allege that she requested permission to work from home as
an accommodation, see Compl. (Dkt. 1), and she does not argue in her response brief that the Court
should consider her purported request to work from home as one of her requests for an
accommodation. Accordingly, the Court does not consider it.
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1121 Filed 11/18/21 Page 8 of 16
Henry Ford provided the desk on April 23 and the headset on April 26.
Resp. at 14–15.
However, because Beim requested these items for her use upon her return to work, there was no
need for Henry Ford to implement these requests until Beim’s return. See, e.g., Loulseged v.
Akzo Nobel Inc., 178 F.3d 731, 737 (5th Cir. 1999) (“In this case, however, there was no apparent
urgency in crafting accommodations since only a portion of Loulseged’s duties presented
difficulties and those duties were not yet imminent.”). Consequently, it makes no sense to count
the time while Beim was still out on leave in the delay calculation. Further, because the items
were not set to arrive on Beim’s first day back to work—April 22, 2019—she was permitted to
work from home on that day. Because Beim was permitted to work from home on her first day
back, she did not need the office equipment on that day and, therefore, this day also arguably
should not count towards the delay calculation. The desk was delivered and set up the following
day, and the headset was delivered and set up two days later.
As a result, the delay in
implementing Beim’s request for a standing desk and telephone headset from the time that they
were actually needed—i.e., from either Beim’s first day back to work (April 22) or her first day
back in the office (April 23)—was a matter of days. Further, the supportive chair was ordered
within two weeks of Beim’s request and was en route when Beim resigned a week after the chair
Regardless of whether the delays in accommodating Beim’s requests were a few days or a
few weeks, courts have held that delays of similar or longer lengths are reasonable. See, e.g.,
Newell v. Central Mich. Univ. Bd. of Trustees, No. 20-1864, 2021 WL 3929220, at *9 (6th Cir.
Sept. 2, 2021) (holding, in the context of a Rule 12(c) motion, that a three-month delay in
accommodating a plaintiff—caused by the defendant’s internal processing of the plaintiff’s civil
rights complaint—was not unreasonable); Ellis v. North Andover Pub. Schs., —F. Supp. 3d—,
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1122 Filed 11/18/21 Page 9 of 16
No. 19-11224-NMG, 2021 WL 5040330, at *4 (D. Mass. Oct. 29, 2021) (finding, on a motion for
summary judgment, 16-day delay reasonable); Marks, 253 F. Supp. 3d at 325 (finding, on a motion
for summary judgment, 17-day delay reasonable); Anderson v. Bellsouth Telecommunications,
LLC, No. 2:12-cv-03537-RDP, 2015 WL 461698, at *11 (N.D. Ala. Feb. 4, 2015) (finding, on a
motion for summary judgment, two-and-a-half-week delay reasonable); Kintz v. United Parcel
Serv., Inc., 766 F. Supp. 2d 1245, 1256–1257 (M.D. Ala. 2011) (finding, on a motion for summary
judgment, 15-day delay reasonable); Terrell v. USAir, Inc., 955 F. Supp. 1448, 1454 (M.D. Fla.
1996) (finding, on a motion for summary judgment, 3-month delay reasonable); Hartsfield v.
Miami-Dade Cnty., 90 F. Supp. 2d 1363, 1373 (S.D. Fla. 2000) (finding, on a motion for summary
judgment, multi-month delay reasonable).
In addition to being short, the delays in implementing Beim’s requests were entirely
attributable to Henry Ford’s diligent internal processing of each of Beim’s requests and events
outside of Henry Ford’s control. When Beim asked Nerreter for a standing desk on March 13,
Nerreter immediately sought direction on how to process Beim’s request and, once she obtained
this direction, initiated the process with CIGNA. Even though CIGNA typically waits to conduct
an onsite assessment until an employee has returned to work, Carlisle worked with CIGNA to do
the assessment ahead of Beim’s return. McCartney waited on Beim to obtain the proper medical
documentation and, once McCartney received it, she recommended a standing desk for Beim.
McCartney and Henry Ford’s personnel then worked to finalize the equipment order, which was
placed several days before Beim returned to work. Because the standing desk’s estimated arrival
was the day after Beim returned to work, Beim was permitted to work from home on her first day
back. The standing desk was delivered the next day (April 23) and set up by the end of that day.
When Beim asked Nerreter for a telephone headset on March 19, Nerreter again
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1123 Filed 11/18/21 Page 10 of 16
immediately sought direction on processing the request. She was told that the headset could be
ordered without CIGNA’s involvement, and so the order was placed. The headset was delivered
to Beim just two days after she returned to work in person (on April 25).4
Finally, when Beim asked Nerreter for a more supportive chair on April 24, Nerreter again
immediately reached out to CIGNA to process Beim’s request. On April 26, Winnega took
pictures of Beim’s workstation, which CIGNA needed to process the request.
communicating with Beim, McCartney conducted an ergonomic assessment on May 2. The chair
was ordered on May 7, just a week before Beim resigned. The chair was still being shipped at the
time of Beim’s resignation.
Because Henry Ford acted expeditiously in providing each of Beim’s requested items, there
is no triable issue as to whether Henry Ford accommodated or was attempting to accommodate
Beim when she resigned. See Gerton, 145 F. App’x at 168. As a result, Beim cannot prove this
crucial element of her failure-to-accommodate claim.
Henry Ford is, therefore, entitled to
summary judgment on this claim.5
The ADA separately prohibits an employer from discriminating against “any individual
because such individual has . . . made a charge . . . under this chapter.” 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a).
Beim appears to complain that Henry Ford did not set up the phone for her. However, Beim’s
own testimony indicates that Henry Ford was prepared to help her set up the phone but, due to
Beim’s frustration in not getting an immediate response from IT, she had her husband come to the
hospital and set up the phone for her, within hours of receiving it.
In addition to arguing that Henry Ford failed to accommodate her, Beim argues that she was
constructively discharged by Henry Ford’s failure to accommodate her. Resp. at 18. However,
Beim is incorrect that Henry Ford failed to accommodate her, for the reasons discussed above.
As a result, Beim cannot base her constructive discharge claim on a failure to accommodate her.
It follows that this asserted adverse action cannot establish retaliation.
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1124 Filed 11/18/21 Page 11 of 16
“Discrimination here means retaliation.” EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., 782 F.3d 753, 767 (6th Cir.
2015). Thus, an employer violates the ADA if it retaliates against an employee for requesting a
reasonable accommodation. To establish a prima facie case of retaliation, Beim must show that
(i) she engaged in protected activity under the ADA, (ii) Henry Ford knew of that activity, (iii) she
suffered an adverse employment action, and (iv) there was a causal connection between the
protected activity and the adverse employment action. Morrissey v. Laurel Health Care Co., 946
F.3d 292, 304 (6th Cir. 2019). Henry Ford challenges Beim’s ability to prove the second element.
Mot. at 21–24. Beim contends that she suffered an adverse employment action when she was
constructively discharged. Resp. at 18–19.6
A constructive discharge, if proven, is an adverse employment action. Scott v. The
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 160 F.3d 1121 (6th Cir. 1998). “A constructive discharge occurs
when working conditions would have been so difficult or unpleasant that a reasonable person in
the employee’s shoes would have felt compelled to resign.” Tchankpa, 951 F.3d at 814. In other
words, Henry Ford “must have created an objectively intolerable work environment to deliberately
force [Beim] . . . to resign.” Id. “[I]ntolerability is a demanding standard.” Id. For instance,
In her response brief, Beim argues that after her constructive discharge, “the retaliation
continued”—i.e., she was locked out of her computer, told to leave work, and her sweater was
returned to her in a damaged condition. Resp. at 19–20. An adverse action is one that constitutes
a “materially adverse change in the terms of or conditions of . . . employment because of [the]
employer’s conduct.” Talley v. Family Dollar Stores of Ohio, Inc., 542 F.3d 1099, 1107 (6th Cir.
2008). The challenged action must “constitute a significant change in employment status, such
as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a
decision causing a significant change in benefits.” Redlin v. Grosse Pointe Pub. Sch. Sys., 921
F.3d 599, 607 (6th Cir. 2019) (punctuation modified). Because each of these actions were taken
after Beim resigned and did not result in a change in her benefits (notably, Beim was paid for the
period between when she was locked out of her computer and escorted off the premises on her last
formal day of work), they do not constitute a significant change in her employment status and,
therefore, are not adverse employment actions.
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1125 Filed 11/18/21 Page 12 of 16
the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has held that demotion, reduction in salary,
harassment, and sexual assault can be objectively intolerable working conditions. Id. However,
“dissatisfaction with work assignments, a feeling of being unfairly criticized, or difficult or
unpleasant working conditions are not so intolerable as to compel a reasonable person to resign.”
Matvia v. Bald Head Is. Mgmt., Inc., 259 F.3d 261, 273 (4th Cir. 2001).
Beim is unable to meet this high standard. Beim argues that after she complained about
Henry Ford’s failure to provide reasonable accommodations, the following events caused her to
resign: (i) Nerreter’s mocking of Beim’s accent; (ii) Nerreter’s suggestion that Beim go back on
medical leave while her accommodation requests were being processed; (iii) Savage’s statement
that if Beim was not happy at Henry Ford, she could look for a job elsewhere; and (iv) Savage’s
alleged threat that Beim would be written up if she continued to complain about her interaction
with Nerreter. Resp. at 19. 7 None of these events raises a triable issue of fact regarding
First, Nerreter’s mocking of Beim’s accent may have been rude, but rude or condescending
behavior is generally insufficient to compel a reasonable person to resign. See Dendinger v. Ohio,
207 F. App’x 521, 527 (6th Cir. 2006) (concluding that supervisors’ sexual overtures and
condescending, rude, and mean treatment towards female employee were insufficient to prove
In her Statement of Additional Material Facts (SAMF), Beim appears to complain that (i)
Nerreter made her attend the weekly off-site meetings in person and (ii) Henry Ford failed to
investigate her written complaint. SAMF ¶¶ 6, 8 (Dkt. 22). However, she does not raise these
actions as adverse employment actions in the section of her brief pertaining to her retaliation claim.
Accordingly, the Court need not address whether these alleged actions are adverse actions. See
Rogers v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 247 (6th Cir. 2007) (“In this circuit, it is well-settled
that issues adverted to in a perfunctory manner, unaccompanied by some effort at developed
argumentation, are deemed waived. It is not sufficient for a party to mention a possible argument
in the most skeletal way, leaving the court to . . . put flesh on its bones.”) (punctuation modified).
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1126 Filed 11/18/21 Page 13 of 16
constructive discharge); Jones v. Fitzgerald, 285 F.3d 705, 716 (8th Cir. 2002) (“Constructive
discharge requires considerably more proof than an . . . unprofessional environment.”). Rather, a
plaintiff must show that the offending behavior was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the
work conditions of her employment. Penn. State Police v. Suders, 542 U.S. 129, 144 (2004).
Here, Nerreter’s condescending behavior consisted of allegedly mocking Beim’s accent, which is
not sufficiently severe. See, e.g., Hanzer v. Nat’l Mentor Healthcare, LLC, No.: 12-363-LPSMPT, 2014 WL 1390889, at *3 (D. Del. Apr. 10, 2014) (“Even a few incidents of mocking an
employee’s accent does not rise to the level of a severe or pervasive hostile work environment.”).
And—by Beim’s own admission—this behavior was a one-time event, see Beim Dep. at 130
(testifying that Nerreter was never condescending to Beim on any other occasion), meaning that it
was non-pervasive, see, e.g., Williams v. AK Steel Corp., No. 18-11485, 2020 WL 2836287, at
*12 (E.D. Mich. May 31, 2020) (holding that a one-time use of a racial slur was not sufficiently
pervasive to support a hostile work environment claim).
Second, Nerreter’s suggestion that Beim go back on medical leave until the appropriate
accommodations were provided is insufficient to establish constructive discharge. To be clear,
constructive discharge can occur where an employee is forced to take an unpaid medical leave of
absence from which the employee is unable to return. See White v. Honeywell, Inc., 141 F.3d
1270, 1279 (8th Cir. 1998). But here, there was no suggestion that if Beim went back on medical
leave, it would be unpaid. Nor was there any suggestion that Beim would be unable to return to
work. To the contrary, Beim was only asked to go back on leave until the necessary equipment
has been provided. Nerreter Dep. at 36–37; Beim Dep. at 58–59. And Beim was not actually
forced to go back on medical leave, as she never took leave before resigning. The mere suggestion
that Beim go back on medical leave—in light of her complaints of pain and request for additional
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1127 Filed 11/18/21 Page 14 of 16
equipment to accommodate her—would not have compelled a reasonable employee to resign.
Third, Beim is incorrect that she was constructively discharged because Savage told Beim
that she should find another job if she was not happy at Henry Ford. While an employer’s conduct
may amount to constructive discharge where the “employer acts in a manner so as to have
communicated to a reasonable employee that she will be terminated,” this usually requires the
employer to directly tell the employee that she will be terminated.
Lancaster v. City of
Kalamazoo, 746 F.3d 714, 728–729 (6th Cir. 2014) (punctuation modified, citation omitted).
This is because mere apprehension of future termination is insufficient to establish constructive
discharge. See Agnew v. BASF Corp., 286 F.3d 307, 310 (6th Cir. 2002). For instance, in
Tchankpa, the employer told the employee that it might fire him if he violated its time off policy
by seeking medical treatment during work hours; when the employee insisted on working from
home, the employer reminded him that that “he could quit if he didn’t like his job’s requirements.”
951 F.3d at 815. The Sixth Circuit held that because the employer had previously rightfully
denied the employee’s unreasonable work-from-home request, the employer’s forceful insistence
that the employee accept its decision on his work-from-home request would not have compelled a
reasonable employee to resign. Id. The court concluded that “[w]ithout the immediate or
credible threat of adverse action, [the employer’s] comments about [the employee] leaving his job
did not create an objectively intolerable workplace.” Id.
This case is like Tchankpa. The undisputed facts show that Savage did not tell Beim that
she would be terminated for requesting accommodations or complaining about Nerreter’s handling
of these requests. Rather, in the context of discussing Nerreter and Beim’s conversation about
Beim going back on medical leave, Savage told Beim that she was free to find another job if she
was not happy at Henry Ford. This at most was a strong reiteration of Henry Ford’s lawful
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1128 Filed 11/18/21 Page 15 of 16
suggestion that Beim go back on medical leave until her requested accommodations were secured.
It was not an immediate or credible threat of termination. As a result, Savage’s statement that
Beim was free to look for another job did not create an objectively intolerable workplace.
Fourth, even assuming that Savage threatened to write Beim up if Beim continued to
complain to others, this is insufficient to support Beim’s constructive discharge claim.
reprimand can support a claim of constructive discharge in certain circumstances. See, e.g.,
FiveCAP, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., 294 F.3d 768, 788 (6th Cir. 2002) (holding that reprimands for failure
to comply with contrived policies supported constructive discharge claim).
threatening an employee with a reprimand like a write-up is insufficient, see Tchankpa, 951 F.3d
at 815 (“[R]eceiving negative feedback without consequence does not implicate the ADA.”),
particularly if the threat is not immediate, see id. (holding that a threat of termination is not
objectively intolerable unless immediate); Agnew, 286 F.3d at 310 (holding that mere
apprehension of an adverse action is insufficient to show constructive discharge). Here, Beim has
put forth no evidence to show that Savage’s threat ever materialized (i.e., Savage never wrote up
Beim). Further, the record reflects that the threat was not imminent. Rather, Savage threatened
to hold Beim accountable if she continued to discuss her accommodation-related complaints
outside Human Resources and her chain of command in violation of the employee professional
code of conduct. Savage Dep. at 25; HFHS Documents at HFHS172; Written Complaint; Beim
Dep. at 74. Thus, Savage’s one-time threat of a write-up would not have forced a reasonable
employee to resign.
No rational jury could conclude that Henry Ford made Beim’s working conditions so
objectively intolerable that any reasonable employee in her position would have felt compelled to
The only rational conclusion is that Beim voluntarily resigned.
And a voluntary
Case 2:20-cv-13054-MAG-KGA ECF No. 29, PageID.1129 Filed 11/18/21 Page 16 of 16
resignation precludes a finding of adverse action, an essential element of Beim’s retaliation claim.
Hammon v. DHL Airways, Inc., 165 F.3d 441, 447–450 (6th Cir. 1999). As a result, Henry Ford
is entitled to summary judgment on this claim.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court grants Henry Ford’s motion for summary judgment
Dated: November 18, 2021
s/Mark A. Goldsmith
MARK A. GOLDSMITH
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?