The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, Senior District Judge.
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION ORDER
Renard Peyton ("Peyton") has sued his ex-employer Otis Elevator
Company ("Otis"), asserting that Otis violated the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA," 42 U.S.C. § 12101-12117*fn1) (1) by
terminating his employment because of his asserted disability of
alcoholism, (2) by not accommodating that claimed disability and
(3) by failing to rehire him because of that claimed disability.
Otis now moves for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule")
Both sides have complied with this District Court's local rules
that at the time of the parties' filings were General Rules 12(M)
and 12(N), but that have respectively been redesignated as LR
56.1(a) and LR 56.1(b) effective September 1, 1999 in compliance
with the directive that all District Courts' rules must be
renumbered to conform to the numbering of the Rules to which they
relate.*fn2 Otis' Rule 56 motion is now fully briefed and ready
for decision. For the reasons set out in this memorandum opinion
and order, the motion is granted and this action is dismissed.
Summary Judgment Standards
Familiar Rule 56 principles impose on Otis the burden of
establishing the lack of a genuine issue of material fact
(Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct.
2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)). For that purpose this Court must
"read the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party," although it "is not required to draw unreasonable
inferences from the evidence" (St. Louis N. Joint Venture v. P &
L Enters., Inc., 116 F.3d 262, 265 n. 2 (7th Cir. 1997)). While
"this general standard is applied with added rigor in employment
discrimination cases, where intent is inevitably the central
issue" (McCoy v. WGN Continental Broad. Co., 957 F.2d 368,
370-71 (7th Cir. 1992)), that does not negate the potential for
summary judgment in cases where a movant plainly satisfies the
Rule 56 standards (Washington v. Lake County, 969 F.2d 250, 254
(7th Cir. 1992)). In those terms summary judgment is appropriate
if the record reveals that no reasonable jury could conclude that
Peyton was treated in a statutorily prohibited discriminatory
fashion (see Fuka v. Thomson Consumer Elecs., 82 F.3d 1397,
1402 (7th Cir. 1996) and cases cited there). And as the ensuing
discussion demonstrates, that standard dooms Peyton's claims.
What follows in the Facts section (and in the later factual
discussion) is culled from the parties' submissions. And as with
every summary judgment motion, this Court accepts nonmovant
Peyton's version of any disputed facts where his position is
arguably supported by the record.
Otis first hired Peyton in 1991 but terminated his employment
that same year because of unexcused absences (O.56.1(a) ¶¶ 4-6).
Peyton was hired again by Otis on February 26, 1997 as an
elevator construction helper (id. ¶ 3) At that time Peyton knew
of Otis' policies that all employees must notify Otis and call
off of work when they are going to be absent or late and that
unexcused absences could result in termination (id. ¶¶ 7-9)
On March 21 and April 4, 1997 Peyton failed to appear for work
and did not phone Otis to call off of work (id. ¶ 10). Peyton
consequently received an oral warning for absenteeism for the
first infraction and a written warning for the second (id. ¶¶
11-12). At some point during the same time frame Peyton also met
with an Otis field operations manager who told him that more
unexcused absences would result in Peyton's termination.*fn3 At
that meeting the manager had a letter of termination in his hand,
but it was torn up after the oral warning (O.56.1(a) Ex. 3
("Peyton Dep.") 64). Even though the manager specifically asked
Peyton "what the problem was,  I told him I can't tell him. I
couldn't tell him" (id).
On April 29, 1997, less than a month after his second unexcused
absence, Peyton failed to appear for work on time, but he says
that he called off of work by 10 a.m. (P. 56.1(b) ¶ 10). Over the
phone he told Otis that the reason for his absences was that "he
couldn't stop drinking" (P. 56.1(b) ¶ 17). That was the first
time that Otis had notice that Peyton might have a condition that
could possibly be labeled as a disability (O.56.1(a) ¶ 16). That
same day Otis terminated Peyton's employment (id. ¶ 14).
Peyton also claims that after he was terminated he requested an
accommodation from Otis by calling the company to seek treatment
for his drinking problem, and that Otis referred him to a
treatment center (P. 56.1(b) Ex. A at 74). Peyton received
inpatient treatment from that center, plus outpatient treatment
from another facility (id. at 87-88). During the summer of
1997, after the completion of his inpatient care and during his
outpatient treatment, he reapplied to Otis (id. at 100-02) but
Otis declined to rehire him (O.56.1(a) ¶ 22).
Otis claims Peyton was terminated and not rehired because of
his unexcused absences, while Peyton asserts both decisions were
reached solely on account of his alcoholism. Peyton further
claims that Otis had a duty to accommodate his presumed
disability once Otis became aware of its existence.
As this Court has observed in Tomasello v. Delta Air Lines,
Inc., 8 F. Supp.2d 1090, 1092 (N.D.Ill. 1998) (quotation marks,
footnote and citations omitted), ADA's general prohibition
against disability ...