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MILLER v. CHAMPAIGN COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DIST.

December 22, 1997

EARL H. MILLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHAMPAIGN COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT, NO.4, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Baker, Senior District Judge.

  ORDER

In this case the court must decide whether an employer ordered psychiatric examination and a related letter are discriminatory within the meanings of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The plaintiff, Earl Miller, is employed by the defendant, Champaign Community Unit School District No. 4 (school district) as the head custodian at Booker T. Washington Elementary School. On November 23, 1993, the school district placed Miller on a paid leave of absence and required him to undergo a psychiatric examination. Following the psychiatric evaluation, he returned to work on January 18, 1994, and has continued to work as the head custodian at Booker T. Washington School. Miller's second amended complaint alleges violations of the ADA and Title VII. The defendant has moved for summary judgment. The court now grants summary judgment to the defendant.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Covalt v. Carey Canada, Inc., 950 F.2d 481 (7th Cir. 1991). On review, the district court views "all evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment." Wilson v. Williams, 997 F.2d 348 (7th Cir. 1993). However, Rule 56(c) "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. at 2552. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party there is no `genuine' issue for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986).

Facts

These are the uncontested facts of the case. Earl Miller was hired by the Champaign School District in 1985. In May, 1990, he was promoted to the position of head custodian at Washington Elementary School. In August, 1993, Dr. Arnetta Rodgers became the principal of Washington School and Miller's supervisor. During the 1993-94 school year, in Miller's perception, a series of incidents occurred that led him to believe people at the school were trying to get rid of him; that people were trying to make him lose his job.

During the fall of 1993, Dr. Rodgers sent Miller a series of memos regarding his job performance. Summarized, these memos include: (1) an August 30, 1993 memo about an unlocked door; (2) an October 18, 1993 memo about Miller's inappropriate assumption of authority over the building's extermination program; his failure to clean-up sidewalk graffiti; and the fact that it took him several days to comply with her directive to put certain notices on entrance doors to the school; (3) an October 26, 1993 memo regarding the building being left unlocked on October 20; and (4) a November 2, 1993 memo note regarding Rodgers' concerns about Miller's job performance. Additionally, from October, 1993, until November 9, 1993, Dr. Rodgers required Miller to keep a daily log of his activities. She ended this requirement after November 9, 1993.

On October 27, 1993 an altercation occurred between Miller and a teacher, Bobby Hunt. Miller allegedly told Hunt, "the fucking door was open". Hunt reported the incident to Dr. Rodgers. Around this same time Miller told Hunt in conversation that people were trying to get rid of him. Miller met with Dr. Rodgers on November 2, 1993, and told her that someone was leaving the door unlocked.

During the morning of November 18, 1993, Miller asked Dr. Rodgers to accompany him to the school kitchen. He showed her a garbage can which had a screw in the bottom. He told her someone had put the screw in there to cause leakage and to interfere with Miller's doing his job. Miller told Rodgers he wanted to point out other things that were going on in the building including someone unplugging the milk cooler at night. About a half hour following this discussion, school secretary Nancy Diedrich reported to Dr. Rodgers that Miller was acting strangely. Diedrich said that she had offered Miller some candy and that he had turned and walked away saying, "it's going to get taken care of; it's going to get taken care of." In his deposition, Miller explained that the "it's going to get taken care of" language was in essence his thinking out loud, and that he was referring to all the pranks going on. Diedrich states that she followed Miller asking for an apology, but that he ignored her and kept walking.

Later that same morning (November 18, 1993) Dr. Rodgers went to talk to Miller about cleaning shades. She asked Miller if he had gotten her memo on the subject. Miller said yes and walked away. Rodgers believed Miller was angry, upset, and rude. She asked him if something was wrong. Miller told her that a teacher, Scott Davis, "had peed on the floor of the boys' bathroom." He had gone to the building office to report it and the office personnel had all laughed. Miller led Rodgers to the restroom and showed her a wet spot on the floor. He said Davis' shoeprint was on the floor. Miller was agitated. Dr. Rodgers pulled Davis out of his classroom to discuss the matter. Davis denied urinating on the bathroom floor. As Davis and Rodgers were talking, Miller came up. All three went to the boys' bathroom. As they walked, Miller was agitated and muttering about the Bible, and about God punishing sinners, and about the devil.

In the early afternoon of that same day (November 18, 1993) Miller came to the office and told Diedrich he was going to lunch. Diedrich told Dr. Rodgers that Miller also said something about placing a booby trap in his office. Miller denies making the "booby trap" comment.

Dr. Rodgers contacted Joe Tomlinson, the District Director of Personnel. He told her to document the incidents and that he would seek further advice on what to do. Dr. Rodgers wrote a memo to Tomlinson which detailed some of Miller's behavior. Her memo concluded: "At this point, I am quite concerned about Mr. Miller's erratic behavior. I also wonder if I can trust him and I am concerned about my personal safety. I think that his attitude and behaviors on the job warrant immediate attention." Tomlinson set up a meeting on November 23 with Miller, Miller's Union representative, and Rodgers. The purpose of the meeting was to provide Miller with an opportunity to discuss the events of November 18.

Miller arrived at the November 23 meeting approximately 20 minutes late carrying his Bible. He was acting agitated and suspicious. He was angry because the meeting was held on his wedding anniversary. When he arrived he repeated several times that if the meeting had anything to do with discipline he didn't want any part of it. Tomlinson reviewed Dr. Rodgers' memo and asked Miller if it was accurate. Miller pointed his finger at Tomlinson and Rodgers and said that the Bible told him how these things should be handled, and that they were not being handled appropriately and that Dr. Rodgers needed to do something about her staff. The Union representative took Miller aside to talk to him alone. After the meeting resumed, Tomlinson told Miller he was on paid leave of absence pending a psychiatric examination

During his paid leave of absence, Miller was evaluated on December 22, 1993, by Lawrence Jeckel, M.D., a board certified psychiatrist. Dr. Jeckel reported to the school district that "Mr. Miller displayed the thinking of someone with a thought disorder, probably a variant of schizophrenia. I would not give him the diagnosis of schizophrenia at this time. Instead I would describe him as having a schizophreniform disorder, a thought disorder which has been in evidence for six months or less." Dr. Jeckel offered his opinion that "although Mr. Miller is not presently dangerous to himself and others, he does have paranoid psychotic symptoms which can predispose an individual to violent acting out. One choice would be to re-employ Mr. Miller with close monitoring of ...


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