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Date: 07-17-2023

Case Style:

Salathiel Thomas v. Wayne County Community College District

Case Number: 2:19-cv-13499

Judge: Denise Page Hood

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Wayne County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: Eric Stempien

Defendant's Attorney: James R. Acho, Jonathan Wylie, Monica N. Hunt

Description: Detroit, Michigan civil rights lawyer represented Plaintiff who sued defendant on an employment discrimination theory.

Plaintiff began working for Defendant as a Records Technician in 1987. Defendant has multiple campuses and facilities throughout Wayne County, including three campuses in the City of Detroit and a campus in Belleville (the Ted Scott Campus). Plaintiff worked at the Eastern Campus, which is located in the City of Detroit, from 2016 to 2019. Prior to 2019, Plaintiff twice requested accommodations to her work schedule while working at the Eastern Campus. In 2016, she requested that she not have to work late at night because a temporary vision loss in her left eye made it difficult for her to work during night hours. In 2017, Plaintiff requested an accommodation to move her start time back by one-half hour, so that she would not be alone in the office and campus security would be on site, due to safety concerns associated with a previous incident. Both requests for accommodation of work hours were granted.

On or about May 14, 2019, the Human Resources department for Defendant advised Plaintiff by Personnel Action Notice that she was being transferred to a different campus; specifically, she was being transferred, effective immediately, to Defendant's western-most campus located in Belleville, known as the Ted Scott Campus. ECF No. 27, Ex. 1. Plaintiff was advised that she would continue in her role as Records Technician at the Ted Scott Campus. Defendant's Senior Vice


Chancellor, Furquan Ahmed, has testified that the transfer was made because there was a need for a records technician at the Ted Scott Campus, as requested by the president of that campus, Tony Arminiak. Mr. Ahmed testified that the employee he selected and authorized for transfer to the Ted Scott Campus was Plaintiff.

Plaintiff never reported to work at the Ted Scott Campus. On May 16, 2019, Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Pamela Castro-Camero, who authored a letter to Defendant indicating that Plaintiff should remain off work until May 31, 2019.[1] Plaintiff was placed on medical leave. Another of Plaintiff's medical providers, Dr. Rachel Shao-ling Lee, sent a letter to Defendant on May 24, 2019. That letter stated that Plaintiff could not work more than 10 miles from home due to a driving restriction.

At some point between May 14 and May 28, 2019, Plaintiff asked that she be accommodated by remaining at the Eastern Campus, which was within ten (10) miles of her home. She received a call on May 28, 2019 from Clara Thurman, a Human Resources associate for Defendant. Ms. Thurman advised Plaintiff that Defendant would not accommodate Plaintiff's request to remain at the Eastern Campus. On May 29, 2019, Plaintiff emailed Mr. Ahmed, Mark Sanford (the Eastern Campus president), and Ms. Thurman. In that email, Plaintiff outlined her


“concerns” about being sent to the Ted Scott Campus, represented that she had sarcoidosis, and expressed that this would be her formal request for reasonable accommodation under the ADA. On June 5, 2019, Ms. Thurman sent a letter to Plaintiff that stated as follows: “This is a follow up to our conversation regarding the specific accommodation in question. We are unable to accommodate the restriction of not working greater than 10 miles from your home.” ECF No. 30, Ex. 1 at PageID.221. Defendant's representatives did not talk to Plaintiff, her physician(s) or anyone associated with Plaintiff about her May 29, 2019 request for accommodation.

Plaintiff never returned to work for Defendant after receiving the May 14, 2019 notification that she was to immediately begin reporting for work at the Ted Scott Campus. After Plaintiff was on medical and/or sick leave between May 16, 2019 and August 19, 2019, she submitted a letter of retirement to Defendant. Plaintiff claims that, due to the actions and inaction of Defendant, she has suffered a significant loss of income from being forced into resignation and early retirement. Plaintiff seeks back pay, emotional damages, compensatory damages, and attorney fees.
Thomas v. Wayne Cnty. Cmty. Coll. Dist. (E.D. Mich. 2023)

Outcome: Settled for an undisclosed sum and dismissed with prejudice.

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