United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
TERENCE P. KEMP MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
OPINION & ORDER
ALGENON L. MARBLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment
of Defendant Horton Emergency Vehicles
(“Horton”). For the reasons that follow, the
Court DENIES Horton's motion.
case arises from the alleged disability discrimination of
Horton against Plaintiff, a former employee. Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant violated Ohio and federal
discrimination laws when it fired him eleven days after he
began his employment and two days after he informed a Human
Resources Director that he had blood cancer.
is a manufacturer of ambulances in Grove City. Horton hired
Plaintiff David Gable (“Mr. Gable” or
“Gable”) on May 11, 2015, to be a Paint Manager.
(Gable Aff't at ¶ 2.) Prior to working for Horton,
Mr. Gable had been a manager for twenty-five years,
“supervis[ing], train[ing] and develop[ing] employees,
supervisors, engineers and other managers.”
(Id. at ¶ 3.)
Gable was hired to address issues in the paint shop, which
had been “let go for quite some time[.]”
(Id. at ¶¶ 2, 4.) Upon his arrival, Mr.
Gable inspected the facility and found numerous OSHA
violations, which he worked diligently to address.
(Id. at ¶ 2.) These violations included
“air purifier equipment for employees to breath [sic]
fresh air [that] had not been working properly which could
cause chronic and acute breathing issues; exposed live wires
only a couple feet away from paint booth door, several open
solvent containers that were not grounded, unlabeled
containers with paint and solvent in them, VOC log was not
being filled out for months, and several other
violations[.]” (Id.) Mr. Gable showed all
three shifts of employees the violations, and took pictures
of them for future training opportunities. (Id. at
¶¶ 2-3.) He asked for, and received, additional
employees to help him address these violations over his first
weekend on the job. (Id. at ¶ 2.) Horton denies
having any OSHA violations. (Doc. 25-1.)
Gable wanted to observe every shift at Horton, to inspect
properly the ambulances, and to keep up production by making
sure that he had three to four ambulances in the queue.
(Gable Aff't at ¶ 7.) Therefore, on most days, he
worked from 5:30 a.m. until 3:30 or 4:30 p.m. (Id.)
Although Mr. Gable had only been working at Horton for a few
days, at the request of Horton, he completed appraisals of
several employees. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Because he had
not met many of the employees that Horton had asked him to
appraise, he enlisted the help of Jeffrey Gillespie, a
newly-appointed supervisor. (Id.) He discussed the
appraisals with any employees who disagreed with his
assessment, and everyone left satisfied. (Id.)
Gable alleges that his superiors were happy with his work.
Donald Meister, Vice President of Operations, told Mr. Gable
twice that he was doing a good job. (Id. at ¶
8.) For example, in response to his showing employees the
OSHA violations, Mr. Meister said: “Good job. This is
what needs to be done. These people need direction.”
(Id. at ¶ 3.) Human Resources Director Rebecca
Baciak told him he was doing a good job “at least three
times.” (Id. at ¶ 8.) President John
Slauson also told him he was doing a good job. (Id.)
Mr. Slauson, for example, was “happy that [Mr. Gable]
had been hired” because “they were impressed with
what [he] had accomplished so far” and “they were
lucky to have found [him, ]” because “the Company
had searched for a long time for someone with production,
technical paint, and leadership experience to come to Horton
and turn things around.” (Id. at ¶ 4.)
Mr. Slauson then invited Mr. Gable and his wife to a round of
changed on May 20, 2015 when Mr. Gable told Ms. Baciak that
he had cancer. (Id. at ¶ 10.) Mr. Gable had
gone into Ms. Baciak's office at her request to discuss
supervisor Jeffrey Gillespie's work performance.
(Id.) Ms. Baciak had apologized for being late to
the meeting, and explained that she had just been to the
doctor because she was being treated for cancer.
(Id.) Mr. Gable empathized, divulging that he, too,
had polycythemia vera-a form of blood cancer that could, but
usually did not, develop into leukemia. (Id.) He
mentioned that he was taking chemotherapy pills, and that he
also took blood thinners to treat a blood clot that ran from
his ankle to his mid-thigh. (Id.) He
“disclosed his history because [he] wanted the Company
to know in case [he] ever had another blood clot or started
to bleed from an injury.” (Id.) Ms. Baciak
sympathized, mentioning that her uncle had a similar issue.
that meeting, Mr. Gable drove to Pennsylvania to finish
making arrangements to move to Columbus, Ohio. (Id.
at ¶ 11.) The next day, on May 21, 2015, Ms. Baciak
called “to inform [him] that [he] was being terminated
effective the next day, Friday, May 22.” (Id.)
The reason given: they “were going in a different
direction.” (Id.) Mr. Gable would not be paid
after May 22, eleven days after he was hired. (Id.)
Mr. Gable threatened to sue. (Id.)
now tells Mr. Gable that he was fired, in part, because of
allegations that he told employees that it would be
“[his] way or the highway.” (Id. at
¶ 3.) Mr. Gable denies making any such statement.
(Id.) Mr. Meister, on the other hand, had heard
complaints about the “my way or the highway”
comment, though he does not divulge the source of these
complaints. (Meister Decl., Doc. 25, at ¶ 5.) His
reaction? He “determined that it would be best for the
company to immediately terminate David's employment
before he could do any more damage.” (Id.) He
consulted his immediate supervisor, Horton President Jon
Slauson, and recommended that Mr. Gable be terminated
immediately. (Id.) Mr. Slauson approved.
(Id.) Mr. Meister then called Ms. Baciak to
“inform[ ] [her] of the decision.” (Id.)
has a progressive discipline policy that, “[u]nder
normal circumstances, ” “attempts to provide
associates with notice of deficiencies and an opportunity to
improve.” (Employee Handbook, Doc. 33-2, at 3.) The
progressive discipline policy provides for Horton to give an
offending associate a verbal warning, followed by a written
warning, a final warning, and then, finally, discharge.
(Id. at 3-4.) Horton may bypass its progressive
discipline policy only under certain circumstances:
In cases involving serious misconduct, or anytime management
determines it is necessary, such as a major breach of policy
or violation of law, the steps described above may be
disregarded. With some serious violations, the associate may
be suspended immediately until such time that an
investigation can be conducted to determine what further
action, if any, should be taken.
(Id. at 4.) Neither Mr. Meister nor Ms. Baciak
conducted any investigation of Mr. Gable before it fired him.
(Baciak Decl. and attachments, Docs. 24 and 24-1; Meister
Decl., Doc. 25.) Nor did they provide him with verbal or
written warnings, a final warning, a suspension pending
investigation, or a chance to refute the allegations.
(Id.; Gable Aff't at ¶ 3.) After Ms. Baciak
called to terminate Mr. Gable, she took the statements of
three employees who allegedly heard and felt intimidated by
the “my way or the highway” comment. (Baciak
Decl. and attachments, Docs. 24 and 24-1.) For his part,
after Mr. Gable threatened to sue, Mr. Meister prepared a
statement of reasons for the termination. (Meister Decl. and
attachments, Docs. 25 and 25-1.)
employees at Horton had issues and they were not fired. Mr.
Meister “was unprofessional in his conduct at manager
meetings. He made fun of employees.” (Gable Aff't
at ¶ 5.) EHS manager Jason Painter told Ms. Baciak that
Horton employees liked her “because [she had] big tits.
They like anybody with tits.” (Id.) Mr.
Meister overheard this comment, and did nothing.
(Id.) Mr. Painter also made a racist remark in front
of two African-American employees and Mr. Gable.
(Id. at ¶ 6.) Mr. Gable spoke about the
incident with Ms. Baciak, who did nothing. (Id.)
Another employee, Roby Salyer, took several days off work
because he was angry he did not receive a promotion that he
had been promised. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Mr. Gable
spoke with Mr. Salyer, explained that these actions were
inappropriate, and promised to “help develop
him.” (Id.) ...