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Michigan Verdicts

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Fired hospital worker claimed discrimination, retaliation

Type:

Verdict-Defendant

State:

Michigan

Venue:

Genesee County

Court:

Genesee County, Circuit Court

Injury Type(s):

mental/psychological-emotional distress

Case Type:

Employment - Retaliation, Whistleblower, Race Discrimination, Wrongful Termination

Case Name:

Kyley Skipper v. Hurley Medical Center, No. 15-104313-CL

Date:

February 15, 2017

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Kyley Skipper (Female, 32 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Glen N. Lenhoff; Law Office of Glen N. Lenhoff; Flint, MI, for Kyley Skipper

Defendant(s):

Hurley Medical Center

Defense Attorney(s):

Michael W. Edmunds; Gault & Davison; Grand Blanc, MI, for Hurley Medical Center

Facts:

In December 2014, plaintiff Kyley Skipper, 32, a pharmacy technician, was terminated from her employment with Hurley Medical Center. She claimed her firing was discriminatory and retaliatory. Skipper, who is white, filed suit against Hurley Medical Center, alleging violation of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act for race discrimination and violation of the Whistleblowers' Protection Act for termination in retaliation for her complaints of discrimination. The stated reason for Skipper's termination was that she had "progressed out" after five disciplinary write-ups. According to her union contract, Skipper could be terminated after five disciplines over a specified period of time. Her union grieved several, but not all, of the disciplinary actions, but never took them further. Skipper alleged that one of the disciplinary actions was inappropriate and that she had not reached the five actions necessary for termination. Skipper claimed her termination was a violation of the Whistleblowers' Protection Act and was in retaliation for having complained about race discrimination at the hands of her former supervisor. According to Skipper, her former supervisor, a black female, treated her differently than other employees, both black and white, and had written her up for disciplinary action. That supervisor left and was replaced by a white female, who wrote her up several more times. Skipper complained to that supervisor of past discrimination and claimed she was then terminated. The defense contended that Skipper was properly disciplined and appropriately terminated under the terms of her union contract and that it was not until she retained an attorney that she contested any of the disciplinary actions taken against her. The defense further maintained that Skipper had not made any claims of race discrimination or retaliation in any of the grievances. The defense additionally argued that Skipper's former supervisor only disciplined Skipper once and that her last supervisor would have had no reason to retaliate against Skipper for the actions of a former supervisor.

Injury:

Skipper claimed race discrimination and retaliation. She was able to mitigate her damages by obtaining employment, but at a lower salary. Skipper sought wage differential for the balance of her life, or in excess of $100,000, as well as emotional distress. The defense contended that no damages were due or owing. Case evaluation was $95,000, which plaintiff accepted and defendant rejected.

Result:

The jury found for Hurley Medical Center and a verdict of no cause of action was entered.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Richard B. Yuille

Demand:

$95,000

Offer:

None

Trial Length:

4  days

Trial Deliberations:

3  hours

Jury Vote:

8-0

Jury Composition:

5 female/ 3 male/ all white

Post Trial:

Plaintiff agreed not to appeal or file a federal action in exchange for the defendant not seeking costs. This case is closed.

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel. Plaintiff's counsel did not respond to a request for comment.