Building Inspector's civil rights and whistleblower protection claims are examined
Vijay Parakh sued the Harrison Township in Macomb County, arguing that he was disciplined in retaliation for doing his job. He first brought a grievance under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and won reinstatement of his position. Because that did not provide complete relief, however, he filed the instant action in Circuit Court. The Defendants secured summary disposition of his action by claiming he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and on other grounds. He appealed.
The Court of Appeals panel pointed out that Parakh achieved all that he could under the CBA grievance procedure, and therefore a genuine issue of material fact remained with regard to whether the Plaintiff had exhausted his procedural rights. The Court also pointed out that the Defendants had actually waived this defense by failing to raise it on a timely basis.
The Court of Appeals then affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff's civil rights race discrimination claim, pointing out that he had submitted no evidence to support the claim and in fact was arguing that the defendants' retaliation was based on motivations other than race. It also affirmed the dismissal of his WPA claim because it was not filed within 90 days of the alleged retaliation. The Court pointed out that the Republican majority of Michigan's Supreme Court had recently reversed prior holdings that allowed the extension of the 90-day statute of limitation where there are documented "continuing violations." The Court refused to "toll" or extend the statute of limitiations for the time period when plaintiff was engaged in the grievance procedure under the CBA--because it was not "mandatory." The appellate panel also ruled that the defendants' conduct was not "beyond all possible bounds of decency" and therefore not actionable as an intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Lastly, the higher court ruled that the defendants enjoyed governmental immunity for some but not all of the illegal actions alleged by the plaintiff. While the defendants were immune from defamatory or inapproprate conduct that occurred during board meetings, this did not protect them from improper individual acts in providing derogatory or false information to the local media.