The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, Senior District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Kirsten Hainke ("Hainke") has sued her ex-employer Gleeson, Sklar,
Sawyers & Cumpata LLP ("Gleeson"), claiming that Gleeson (1) violated the
Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA," 42 U.S.C. § 12101 to 12117
*fn1) by terminating her employment because of her various medical
conditions, (2) violated Employee Retirement Income Security Act
("ERISA") § 510 (29 U.S.C. § 1140) by firing her to prevent her
access to employee benefits, (3) violated Title VII of the Civil Rights
of 1964 ("Title VII," 42 U.S.C. § 2000e to 2000e-17) by subjecting
her to hostile work environment sexual harassment and (4) also violated
Title VII by firing her in retaliation for protesting and reporting the
sexual harassment.*fn2 Gleeson now moves for summary judgment under
Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56.
Summary Judgment Standards
Familiar Rule 56 principles impose on Gleeson 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 Hainke was treated in a statutorily prohibited
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 Hainke's claims.
What follows in the Facts section (and in later factual discussion) is
culled from the parties' submissions. And as with every summary judgment
motion, this Court accepts nonmovant Hainke s version of any disputed
facts where her version is arguably supported by the record.
Hainke was hired by public accounting firm Gleeson in June 1994 as part
of its Skokie office's administrative staff (G.56.1(a) ¶ 10).*fn4
Her duties ranged from answering the telephones and receiving mail to
billing and accounts receivable work. Mark Sztelle ("Sztelle") was
Gleeson's Chief Operating Officer and oversaw the Skokie office's
day-to-day activities during the period in question (G.56.1(a) ¶
11). Hainke received annual performance evaluations during her employment
with Gleeson, comprising a self-evaluation, written performance
evaluations by co-workers and an oral performance evaluation by Hainke's
supervisor (G.56.1(a) ¶ 13).*fn5
Several weeks after that meeting Forman again met with Hainke, who then
said that the sexual harassment had died down some but had not ceased
(H.56.1(b) ¶ 48). Despite being asked, Hainke did not want Gleeson to
take any further action on that matter (G.56.1(a) ¶ 48). Hainke
asserts that inappropriate comments continued up until the time of her
termination, though she did not make any further complaints (H.Mem.4).
In the late summer of 1997 Hainke was diagnosed with mitral valve
prolapse (Hainke Dep. 85), a condition that assertedly*fn7 caused
fainting,*fn8 chest pains, shortness of breath, heart palpitations,
always being cold, seizures and a reduced energy level (H.Mem.6). At one
point Hainke even wore a heart monitor, a fact known to Gleeson
(H.56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 25).
In February 1998, after Hainke was terminated, she was diagnosed with
fibromyalgia (Hainke Dep. 92). During her employment with Gleeson, that
condition had resulted in her having sleeping difficulties, a severely
reduced energy level, chronic fatigue, stiffness and aching in the
muscles and joints, and irritable bowel syndrome (Hainke Dep. 92-93).
Hainke also suffers from Raynaud's Phenomena, which causes her
extremities to fall asleep and for her to be cold most of the time
(Hainke Dep. 99-100). Finally, Hainke has nerve damage as the result of
an accident that causes pinching and pain in her back (H.Mem.6).
As far back as early 1996 Hainke had begun to arrive late to work on a
regular basis (H.Mem.2). Though her scheduled work hours were from 9
a.m. to 5:15 p.m., Hainke wrote on her 1996 performance evaluation that
she typically came "in 15 minutes late everyday" (H.56.1(b) ¶ 8)*fn9
In her August 1996 self-evaluation, under the category of tardiness,
Hainke marked the second to lowest category titled "Repetitive
Abuse/Sporadic Compliance" (H.56.1(b) ¶ 15). That September Hainke
was told in her oral evaluation that Gleeson wanted her to be at work by
9 a.m. (G.56.1(a) ¶ 16). Hainke's performance evaluations by her
co-workers during 1996 also included low marks in the tardiness
But Hainke's 1997 performance reviews also reflect tardiness as a
continuing problem. Hainke again marked the second lowest category under
tardiness for her self-evaluation (G.56.1(a) ¶ 19). In Sztelle's
notes of Hainke's 1997 oral evaluation, he wrote (G.56.1(a) ¶ 20):
Being late is a serious problem — has gone on
for too long! Kirsten must start promptly at 9 a.m.
— serious problem 9:20/9:30 is late — must
improve on this.
While Hainke does not contest the existence of that statement in
Sztelle's notes, she does deny that such comments were ever made to her
during the evaluation process (H.56.1(b) ¶ 20). Nevertheless it is
uncontested that Sztelle's written evaluation stated that Hainke should
"Keep trying to arrive on time" (G.56.1(a) ¶ 21).
Hainke again received low scores in 1997 from fellow employees under
the tardiness category (id. ¶ 25). In one of Hainke's performance
reviews a ...