on November 23, 1992, that the Company discontinue LTD benefits, for the reason that he was not "totally disabled" under the Company's LTD Plan.
On December 16, 1992, Mr. Dickey was evaluated by the Company's medical department. He reported that his condition was about the same as it was a year earlier, that he still had pain and pressure in his lower back and was unable to bend, that the pain was not as bad as before and he was taking less pain medication, that his activity at home was limited to lying in bed, trips to the bathroom and to the postoffice by bus or "El," that he had not driven in two years, and that he could not suggest any tasks or jobs he could perform.
On December 23, 1992, the Company notified Mr. Dickey that it was terminating his LTD benefits, and it invited him to request an accommodation so that the Company could assess possible job opportunities for him. Mr. Dickey responded, stating that he could not engage in bending, lifting, prolonged standing or sitting, walking, or gripping. He placed a question mark in the space where he was to indicate the type of accommodation requested. He did not know what type of accommodation to request, because he was no longer familiar with what jobs were open or the content of the jobs -- the only particular job he had in mind was that of yard laborer.
Mr. Dickey appealed both the denial of disability benefits under the Social Security Act
and the denial of LTD benefits under the Company's LTD Plan, continuing to assert that he was totally disabled within the meaning of both the Act and the LTD Plan.
On February 17, 1993, the Company's ADA Compliance Committee reviewed Mr. Dickey's case and decided, based on the available medical information and his assertions of the limited activities in which he could engage, that he was unable to return to the yard laborer job and also that there was no other job in the Company that he had both the skills and the physical ability to perform. Nevertheless, the committee chair, John Ibach, directed the Employment and Training Department to review all job openings to determine if Mr. Dickey could perform any of them. None were found -- Mr. Dickey concedes that he cannot type, take shorthand, or work with a computer, and he knows of no office job that he has the ability to perform -- and on March 4, 1993, Mr. Dickey was notified that his request for an accommodation was denied, but that he would be placed on layoff status until his appeal for reinstatement of LTD benefits was concluded.
On May 27, 1993, Mr. Dickey's attorney furnished the Company, in support of the appeal, a letter from Mr. Dickey's physician that stated that Mr. Dickey's condition, as of May 10, 1993, was as follows: chronic low back pain, occasional sharp pain in the right leg, and numbness; increased back pain with standing or sitting for fifteen minutes; discomfort after walking three or four blocks; and limited ability to bend or lift without pain.
On July 27, 1993, the Company notified Mr. Dickey that his appeal for reinstatement of LTD benefits was denied because he no longer met the definition of "total disability" under the LTD Plan. On August 30, 1993, the Company notified him that in view of the denial of his appeal, a lump sum severance allowance would be paid and that he could now withdraw the shares of the Company's stock held in trust for him in the Company's employee stock ownership plan.
On May 24, 1994, Mr. Dickey filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that "I could have returned to work, was released to do so by my doctors, but was not allowed to do so by Respondent." He was later issued a right-to-sue letter. This action followed.
In order to prevail on a summary judgment motion, "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, [must] show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). At this stage, we do not weigh evidence or determine the truth of asserted matters. We simply determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial, i.e., "whether a proper jury question was presented." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986).
We view all evidence and all inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion for summary judgment. Karazanos v. Navistar Int'l Transp. Corp., 948 F.2d 332, 335 (7th Cir. 1991) (citing Lohorn v. Michal, 913 F.2d 327, 331 (7th Cir. 1990)). However, if that party bears the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, that party is required "to go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the 'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). Ultimately, if "alternate inferences can be drawn from the available evidence, summary judgment is inappropriate." LHLC Corp. v. Cluett Peabody & Co., 842 F.2d 928 (7th Cir. 1988). "Summary judgment is only appropriate when no reasonable jury could find for the moving party." Karazanos, 948 F.2d at 335 (citing Doe v. Allied Signal, Inc., 925 F.2d 1007, 1008 (7th Cir. 1991).
The ADA provides that:
No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to . . . discharge of employees . . . .