University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Nowacki v. Department of Corrections EE-MI-0197
Docket / Court 11-000852-CD ( State Court )
Additional Docket(s) 330255  [ -330255 ]  Appellate Court (MI)
315969  [ -315969 ]  Appellate Court (MI)
342317  [ -342317 ]  Appellate Court (MI)
150167  [ -150167 ]  Supreme Court (MI)
15-000154  [ 15-154 ]  Trial Court (MI)
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
On August 1, 2011, Tom Nowacki filed this class action against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) on behalf of himself and other male corrections officers who had allegedly been denied employment assignments and opportunities at women's correctional facilities on the basis of their sex, ... read more >
On August 1, 2011, Tom Nowacki filed this class action against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) on behalf of himself and other male corrections officers who had allegedly been denied employment assignments and opportunities at women's correctional facilities on the basis of their sex, in violation of the Michigan Civil Rights Act. The suit was filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. The plaintiff sought monetary damages as well as injunctive and declaratory relief. Before this lawsuit, MDOC had reached settlements with female inmates who alleged sexual abuse by male corrections officers. These settlements allegedly resulted in only female corrections officers being assigned to certain assignments at women's facilities.

On June 21, 2012, the court granted class certification. According to the August 2014 Michigan Court of Appeals decision cited below, the class consisted of approximately 80 male corrections officers who, like the plaintiff, had allegedly been denied work opportunities in women's prisons on the basis of their gender. In June 2013, following a year of discovery including multiple depositions, the parties filed motions for summary judgment. But on June 28, 2013, the suit was stayed while the defendant appealed the court's certification of the plaintiff's class.

On August 19, 2014, Judges Saad, Owens, and Kelly of the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a per curiam opinion holding that the lower court had not erred in granting the plaintiff's class certification. 2014 WL 4088041. On September 19, 2014, the defendant appealed the Court of Appeals' decisions to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal in a one-sentence order issued July 1, 2015.

On remand to the trial court, the defendant successfully moved to have the plaintiff's equitable and declaratory claims transferred to the Michigan Court of Claims. Because the adjudication of the equitable and declaratory claims would require a delay of the suit for damages, the plaintiff moved to voluntarily dismiss the equitable and declaratory claims, submitting that its primary objective was money damages. The Court of Claims granted the plaintiff's motion, and the defendant appealed the granting of the voluntary dismissal to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

On March 14, 2017, the Michigan Court of Appeals (Judges Krause, O'Connell, and Meter) affirmed the Court of Claims' grant of the plaintiff's motion for voluntary dismissal of the equitable and declaratory claims, and the case proceeded towards a trial for money damages in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. On remand, the plaintiff filed for summary judgment, but the motion was denied and the Michigan Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal.

A jury trial in the case was scheduled for March 25, 2019 and the case is ongoing.

Nathaniel Flack - 02/04/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-area
Hiring
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State Anti-Discrimination Law
Defendant(s) Michigan Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Male corrections officer alleging discrimination for denial of employment at women's correctional facility.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2011
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
315969 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
EE-MI-0197-9002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/15/2015
Source: State Court Website
330255 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
EE-MI-0197-9003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/06/2017
Source: State Court Website
11-000852 (State Trial Court)
EE-MI-0197-9004.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/31/2018
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
Order
EE-MI-0197-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/25/2013
Source: ACLU
Order (2015 WL 4042260)
EE-MI-0197-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/19/2014
Source: ACLU
Opinion (2014 WL 4088041)
EE-MI-0197-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/19/2014
Source: ACLU
show all people docs
Judges Bernstein, Richard H. Court not on record show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0001
Boonstra, Mark T Court not on record show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-9003
Brown, Archie C. (State Trial Court) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-9002
Hoekstra, Joel P. (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0003
Kelly, Mary Beth (State Supreme Court) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0001
Kelly, Kirsten Frank (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0002
Markman, Stephen J. Court not on record show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0001
McCormack, Bridget Court not on record show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0001
Owens, Donald S. (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0002
Saad, Henry William (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0002
Sawyer, David H. (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0003
Shapiro, Douglas B. (State Appellate Court) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0003
Swartz, David Scott Court not on record show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-9004
Young, Robert P. Jr. (State Supreme Court) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0001
Zahra, Brian K. (State Supreme Court) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-0001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fett, James K. (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-9002 | EE-MI-0197-9003 | EE-MI-0197-9004
Kent-Bryant, Robert D (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-9002
Lenhoff, Glen L. (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-9003 | EE-MI-0197-9004
Defendant's Lawyers Grossi, Christina M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-9004
Miller, Jeanmarie (Michigan) show/hide docs
EE-MI-0197-9002 | EE-MI-0197-9003 | EE-MI-0197-9004

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