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Rubin v. Ford Motor Co.

July 27, 2006

MICHAEL M. RUBIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



ORDER

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 42), Plaintiff's response (Doc. 50), and Defendant's reply (Doc. 51).

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff Michael Rubin, a citizen of Ohio, initially filed a complaint against Defendant Ford Motor Company in the Court of Common Pleas, Hamilton County, Ohio, on August 26, 2002. The case was removed to this Court. On November 13, 2003, this Court dismissed the complaint without prejudice for failure to prosecute.

Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas on November 15, 2004. On December 20, 2004, Defendant removed the action to this Court, based on the Court's diversity jurisdiction. On December 21, 2004, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Defendant's motion was granted in part and denied in part. According to the Court's ruling on the motion to dismiss, Plaintiff's claims were limited to 1) intentional infliction of emotional distress; 2) failure to provide a safe work environment; and 3) negligent retention. Plaintiff's deposition was taken, and Defendant now moves for summary judgment on all claims.

Plaintiff has not submitted a highlighted version of Defendant's proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law as required by the Court's Order of March 7, 2005 (Doc. 12). The Court therefore has gleaned the material facts from the parties' filings and the remainder of the record.

II Factual Background

A. Undisputed Facts

On or about September 24, 1999, Plaintiff began working for Defendant in its plant in Louisville. Defendant offered to transfer Plaintiff to a position as production supervisor in its transmission plant in Sharonville, Ohio, on October 5, 2000, which Plaintiff accepted. Plaintiff and Defendant signed an employment agreement on October 9, 2000, setting the terms for Plaintiff's employment at the Sharonville Plant. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 4.) The employment agreement stated that Plaintiff's employment was not for any definite term and that Plaintiff could be terminated at any time, regardless of Defendant's personnel policies or practices. (Id.) Plaintiff was terminated from his employment with Ford on September 4, 2002. (Pl. Dep., p. 184.) The parties have differing versions of the intervening events. Each party's version of the intervening events is set out separately below.

B. Defendant's Version

The following narrative describes Defendant's version of events between the time Plaintiff was hired and the time he was terminated and cites any supporting evidence in the record.

On May 14, 2001, Plaintiff threw a production part in frustration while at work. Plaintiff 3 was disciplined and received one week off without pay. A "Disciplinary Action Notification" was delivered to Plaintiff concurrent with the suspension. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 10.)

On October 22, 2001, Plaintiff created a hostile work environment by provoking an argument with Myron Ingram, a co-worker, and by yelling and using profanities. Plaintiff was disciplined and received two weeks off work without pay. A "Disciplinary Action Notification" was delivered to Plaintiff concurrent with the suspension. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 11.)

On April 6, 2002, Plaintiff lied to his supervisors, Mr. Southall and Mr. Hull, about the whereabouts of Mr. Billups, an employee under the supervision of Plaintiff. The record includes emails describing the incident sent by Mr. Southall and Mr. Hull to Jim Brooks and Robert Brooks. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13, Attachs. 1, 3.) This incident is also listed as an incident precedent to Defendant's decision to terminate Plaintiff in Jim Brooks' formal request for approval to terminate Plaintiff. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13.)

On April 10, 2002, Plaintiff inappropriately confronted Mr. Southall by yelling, using profanities, and saying "F*** Ford Motor Company" after Mr. Southall did not allow Plaintiff to leave work to handle a family emergency. Defendant offers as evidence an email from Mr. Southall describing the incident and a note to file written by an unidentified person who interviewed Mr. Southall about the incident. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13, Attachs. 4, 6.) This incident is also listed as an incident precedent to Defendant's decision to terminate Plaintiff in Jim Brooks' request for approval to terminate Plaintiff. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13.)

At some time during April 2002, Plaintiff provided his computer password to Angela Waddle, an hourly employee, in violation of Ford policy. (Pl. Dep., pp. 104-110.) Plaintiff gave Ms. Waddle the password so that she could log the hours worked by certain Ford employees on Ford's computer system. (Id.) Plaintiff admits that it was his responsibility to log these hours and that he was generally late in completing this task. (Id.) Defendant claims this policy was communicated to Plaintiff during a computer training session and has submitted a handout dated March 1996 (Pl. Dep., Ex. 8), which Defendant claims was given to Plaintiff during a computer training session that Plaintiff attended on February 21, 2002, prior to the time Plaintiff gave his password to Ms. Waddle. (Pl. Dep., pp. 112-116.) This document was in Plaintiff's possession and was turned over to Defendant from Plaintiff as part of a discovery request. (Pl. Dep., p. 114.) This incident is also listed as an incident precedent to Defendant's decision to terminate Plaintiff in Jim Brooks' request for approval to terminate Plaintiff. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13.)

At some time prior to June 2002, Defendant investigated Plaintiff's complaint that Mr. Southall had inappropriately contacted Plaintiff at his home. (Doc. 42, p. 11.) Defendant disciplined Mr. Southall by giving him a demotion. (Id.) Defendant also assigned Plaintiff a different supervisor in a different area of the plant so that he and Mr. Southall would no longer be working together. (Doc. 42, p. 16.)

On June 26, 2002, Plaintiff committed insubordination and violated Ford policy by telling hourly employees that they could leave early or report late and he would cover for them as long as they got their work done. The record includes emails from Gary Moore relating Gene Johnson's discussion of this incident and Clyde Vance's discussion of this incident. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13, Attachs. 13-14.) Mr. Johnson and Mr. Vance were present when Plaintiff made these remarks. The record also includes a form entitled "Proper Pay Practices," which outlines Ford's policies for payment of hourly employees. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13, Attach. 17.)

On July 16, 2002, Plaintiff committed insubordination by cutting a deal with a union 5 representative in which he reduced the disciplinary penalty of one of his direct reports. The record includes an email from Gary Moore to Jim Brooks describing the incident. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13, Attach. 16.) This incident is also listed as an incident precedent to Defendant's decision to terminate Plaintiff in Jim Brooks' request for approval to terminate Plaintiff. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13.)

On July 18 and July 20, 2002, Plaintiff incorrectly scheduled the shifts for his department, failing to follow the instructions of his Superintendent. The scheduling mistakes threatened the operation of the entire assembly plant. The record includes two emails from Gary Moore describing the incidents. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13, Attachs. 17-18.) This incident is also listed as an incident precedent to Defendant's decision to terminate Plaintiff in Jim Brooks' request for approval to terminate Plaintiff. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13.)

Based upon the incidents listed above, Jim Brooks, a salaried personnel representative at the Sharonville Plant, recommended that Plaintiff be terminated from his employment. (Pl. Dep., Ex. 13.) Plaintiff was terminated on September 4, 2004. The termination meeting between Defendant and Plaintiff was without incident.

C. Plaintiff's Version

The following narrative describes Plaintiff's version of events between the time Plaintiff was hired and the time he was terminated and cites ...


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