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Retaliatory discharge claim against Ford Motor is dimissed

Randy Howard sued his employer and a supervisor, alleging that he was discharged for filing a civil suit contesting his lack of promotion.  The Court of Appeals ultimately dismissed all of the counts raised by Howard, essentially finding that he had a missing proof element in every theory.  With regard to his basic retaliation claim, the Court held that he had not proved that the discharge decision-makers were aware of his "protected activity" in filing a civil rights claim.  With regard to Howard's argument that he was wrongfully denied promotion, the Court held that he had not proved that he was qualified for promotion, and therefore had not raised an inference of discrimination. 

The Court also concluded that Howard had only shown a "coincidence in time" relating his protected activity and the negative employment action (in other words, no employee of the Defendant conceded that he or she acted illegally--the events just happened to happen in close proximity).  While Howard attempted to rely upon a three-year old comment by a non-supervisor to demonstrate illegal animus against him under the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, the Court held that this comment could not qualify to demonstrate illegal employer animus because it was too remote, too vague and not made by his boss. 

Continuing its laundry-list decision, the Court also held that a fellow corporate employee cannot be guilty of interfering with the business relationship of a co-worker unless there is proof that the co-employee is acting solely for his or her own benefit.  Finally, the Court held that the anti-retaliation provisions in Michigan law preclude a common law "public policy" theory arising out of the same theories.

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