Bowers v. Ophthalmology Grp., No. 12-6129 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Bowers joined Ophthalmology Group as an employee in 1999 and, in 2002, became one of six partners. In November 2009, Bowers tendered a resignation letter to her partners. Although she did not give a date of departure, the partnership agreement required a one-year notice. In March, 2010, the partners voted to expel Bowers from the partnership, stating that her Chapter 7 bankruptcy and creditors’ proceedings and other personal conduct were detrimental to the Partnership.” After exhausting administrative remedies, Bowers filed suit, alleging: gender discrimination under Title VII; wrongful termination in breach of contract or in violation of public policy under Kentucky common law; gender discrimination under Kentucky statutes; retaliation for complaining about gender discrimination under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. 2000e. and the state law; and misappropriation of name for commercial advantage. Bowers moved to disqualify defendant’s counsel because another attorney at the firm previously represented Bowers in a substantially related matter. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant because Bowers, as a former partner, was not an “employee” under Title VII and denied the motion to disqualify “as moot.” The Sixth Circuit vacated summary judgment and granted the motion to disqualify.