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NELSON v. FINISHES UNLIMITED

October 31, 1997

JOHN Q. NELSON, Plaintiff,
v.
FINISHES UNLIMITED, INC., an Illinois corporation; HENRY GODSHALK; Z.M. GODSHALK; and VARIOUS JOHN DOES and JANE DOES, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUCKLO

 Plaintiff, John Q. Nelson, filed a complaint against the defendants, Finishes Unlimited, Inc. ("Finishes"), et al., alleging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. ("ADA"). Mr. Nelson also invoked this court's supplemental jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a), over his claims for violations of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 305/1 et seq., and of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 115/1 et seq. The defendants seek summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 as to all of Mr. Nelson's claims. For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion is granted.

 Background

 The undisputed facts are as follows. *fn1" Mr. Nelson was hired by Finishes on May 31, 1994 as a batch operator. Over the next seven months, Mr. Nelson received two pay increases and a promotion from batch operator to mill room operator.

 On January 26, 1995, Mr. Nelson suffered a work-related injury to his right elbow and shoulder. He visited his personal physician, Dr. David Lucks, and was told that he could continue to work but should not lift over 20 pounds for three weeks. Mr. Nelson informed Finishes on January 30, 1995 of the restriction by giving Dan Powers, Mr. Nelson's team leader, Dr. Lucks' prescription/restriction note. Mr. Powers told Mr. Nelson to follow the restriction and that if he needed to lift something over 20 pounds, Finishes would accommodate him and provide someone to lift it for him.

 On February 2, 1995, while Mr. Nelson was unloading the # 2 mill, he spilled eight gallons of paint in the production area of the mill. Mr. Nelson received an unsatisfactory work report/disciplinary report regarding this incident two days later.

 Also on February 2, 1995, in the late afternoon or early evening, Mr. Nelson loaded the # 1 mill and let it run overnight. Mr. Nelson recalls setting a pump meter which pumped a resin liquid vehicle agent in the # 1 mill, but he did not check the resin pump meter before he left that evening.

 On the morning of February 3, 1995, Jeff Schaibley, the acting mill room operator, observed dry powder on the floor near the # 1 mill, noticed that the mill was extremely hot, and discovered that the contents of the mill were caked to the side of the mill and not in a thick liquid form, as they should have been if the mill was properly filled and mixed overnight.

 Mr. Schaibley reported the situation to Mark Olson, Mr. Nelson's supervisor. Mr. Olson concluded that Mr. Nelson had not put enough resin in the grind portion of the mill. On February 6, 1995, Mr. Nelson received another unsatisfactory work report/first warning notice for improperly loading the # 1 mill.

 Mr. Nelson was informed of the # 1 mill condition when he returned to work and officially responded to the two reports on February 13, 1995. He claimed that he was being harassed and that his locker had vulgar graffiti on it that was directed at him. Jerri Cooper, the human resources coordinator, informed Mr. Nelson that Finishes would not condone harassment, that the graffiti would be removed, but that he still needed to prepare a direct response to the unsatisfactory work reports.

 On February 15, 1995, Mr. Nelson provided Finishes with his supplemental response to the unsatisfactory work reports. Mr. Nelson admitted improperly loading the # 2 mill when he spilled the paint, but denied that he had improperly loaded the # 1 mill. Ms. Cooper and Mr. Olson presented Mr. Nelson's response and detailed Mr. Olson's investigation to Zoe Godshalk, the vice president of the company, on February 19, 1995. Based on the information presented to Ms. Godshalk, she concluded that Mr. Nelson was being dishonest when he denied that he improperly loaded the # 1 mill and decided to terminate Mr. Nelson for dishonesty. The decision to terminate Mr. Nelson was made solely by Ms. Godshalk. She instructed Mr. Olson to terminate Mr. Nelson. At that time, Ms. Godshalk did know that Mr. Nelson had an injury that precluded him from lifting items over 20 pounds.

 On February 20, 1995, Mr. Olson informed Mr. Nelson that Finishes was terminating his employment because he was dishonest when he denied improperly loading the # 1 mill.

 Summary Judgment

 A. The ADA ...


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