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CHRISTOU v. HYATT REGENCY-O'HARE

March 2, 1998

ANTONIOS CHRISTOU, Plaintiff,
v.
HYATT REGENCY-O'HARE, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUCKLO

 The plaintiff, Antonios Christou, brought suit against the defendant, Hyatt Regency-O'Hare ("Hyatt"), alleging that Hyatt discriminated against him on the basis of his disability by harassing him, failing to accommodate him, and then terminating him, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Mr. Christou further alleges that Hyatt terminated him in retaliation for filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Hyatt now moves for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons set forth below, Hyatt's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 Background

 Mr. Christou worked for Hyatt as a banquet waiter until he was discharged on September 23, 1994. During his tenure at Hyatt, he performed all the duties of a banquet waiter satisfactorily. In accomplishing those tasks, Mr. Christou wore thick prescription glasses.

 In the six months prior to Mr. Christou's termination, several comments were made about his vision. Mr. Christou filed an EEOC claim on June 16, 1994, alleging disability harassment, based on some of those comments.

 During the spring of 1994, Hyatt was experiencing a rash of theft at the hotel. To tighten security, Hyatt reiterated its employee entrance/exit policy by distributing memorandums on June 27, 1994 and on August 12, 1994. They stated that any employee caught violating the policy faced possible termination. The policy prohibited any employee from entering or exiting the hotel from any door other than the one specifically reserved for employees. Prior to that time, the policy was never enforced.

 On September 20, 1994, Mr. Christou was observed exiting the hotel through a banquet room door to take a cigarette break. Mr. Christou was suspended and subsequently discharged on September 23, 1994 for violating the entrance/exit policy.

 On November 3, 1994, Mr. Christou applied for Social Security disability benefits. In his application, he stated that he became disabled on September 30, 1994, and that he used to work as a waiter but could no longer perform that job because he was legally blind. His application was approved on November 23, 1994, and Mr. Christou continues to receive Social Security benefits based on that application. *fn1"

 Summary Judgment

 Hyatt advances several arguments, seeking judgment on all of Mr. Christou's claims. I address each below.

 A. "Disability" Under the ADA

 To qualify for protection against discrimination under the ADA, Mr. Christou must suffer from a "disability." The ADA defines "disability" as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of [an] individual." 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2)(A). *fn2" EEOC regulations define "major life activities" to include "functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working." 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(i). "'Substantially limits' means that the person is either unable to perform a major life function or is 'significantly restricted as to the condition, manner or duration' under which the individual can perform a particular life function, as compared to the average person in the general population." Weiler v. Household Fin. Corp., 101 F.3d 519, 523 (7th Cir. 1996) (quotations omitted).

 At the time Mr. Christou was terminated, he worked as a banquet waiter. His responsibilities included setting tables; cleaning tables when the customers were finished eating; serving food, appetizers, and any beverages including water, coffee, and tea; separating and placing all of the dirty dishes and utensils on a cart, which he brought to the kitchen; and going to the laundry room to get clean towels and tablecloths and then taking them up a flight of stairs to the individual banquet rooms. During his last six months of employment, no duties were taken away from him by his supervisors, nor did he ever request to be relieved of any duties. In fact, Mr. Christou drove to and from his job until he was terminated. ...


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