The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur, Senior United States District Judge.
Kathryne Cebertowicz ("Cebertowicz") has charged her former employer
Motorola, Inc. ("Motorola") with discriminating against her in violation
of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("Act,"
42 U.S.C. § 12101-12117). Cebertowicz' Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission ("EEOC") charge, attached to and made a part of her
Complaint, alleged that Motorola had breached the Act by denying her a
reasonable accommodation that would have allowed her to continue working
as a Cellular Operator in spite of her asserted disability.
Summary Judgment Standards
Familiar Rule 56 principles impose on Motorola the burden of
establishing the lack of a genuine issue of material fact (Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (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)). As Pipitone v. United States,
180 F.3d 859, 861 (7th Cir. 1999) has more recently quoted from Roger v.
Yellow Freight Sys., Inc., 21 F.3d 146, 149 (7th Cir. 1994)):
A genuine issue for trial exists only when a reasonable
jury could find for the party opposing the motion based
on the record as a whole.
As with any summary judgment motion, this Court accepts nonmovant
Cebertowicz' version of any disputed facts so long as that version is
supported by record evidence. But assertions made in the affidavit that
Cebertowicz submitted with her response to the motion are not sufficient
to create genuine issues of material fact when they contradict her
deposition testimony and are unsupported by any specific evidence
(Patterson v. Chicago Ass'n for Retarded Citizens, 150 F.3d 719, 724 (7th
Cir. 1998)). What follows in the Facts section is culled from the
Cebertowicz was hired by Motorola in January 1995 to work as a Cellular
Operator at its Libertyville, Illinois facility (M. St. ¶ 2). In that
position she performed various functions related to the assembly and
packaging of new cellular telephones, including soldering wires onto the
control panels, placing "flips" onto the telephones and inspecting and
testing the assembled telephones (id.).
On December 13, 1996 Cebertowicz saw an allergist, who diagnosed her
with allergic rhinitis and bronchial asthma (M. St. ¶¶ 10, 14).
Cebertowicz' symptoms included congestion, sneezing, headaches and itchy
eyes, nose and ears (M. St. ¶ 10). To treat those symptoms, her
doctor prescribed a combination of medication and environmental controls
(M. St. ¶ 19). And to assess the efficacy of those measures, her
doctor conducted regular "peak flow" tests that measured her lung
function after use of an inhaler. From December 1996 through April 1997
her test results ranged from 94.4% to 100.1% of the lung function that
would be expected if she had no allergies or asthma (M. St. ¶¶ 13,
20-26) (a peak flow of 94.4% or higher is considered "well controlled")
(M. St. ¶ 13). There was no indication during that period that
Cebertowicz was limited in her ability to function, either at work or
otherwise (M. St. ¶¶ 23-26). She never missed any work due to her
symptoms (M. St. ¶¶ 28).
In May 1997 Cebertowicz reported to her doctor that her medication
seemed "generally effective" except when she was at work where she was
"exposed to fine dust and some odors" (M. St. ¶ 27). Based on
Cebertowicz' subjective report that she was continuing to experience
symptoms when at work, her doctor recommended that she use a respirator
mask while working (M. St. ¶ 28).
Sometime after that appointment Cebertowicz asked that Motorola provide
a mask for her to wear at work (M. St. ¶ 29). Motorola then
communicated with her physician several times to obtain additional
information about her medical condition (id.). At Motorola's request
Cebertowicz saw a second physician, who reported that if factory air
quality could not be monitored, Cebertowicz would benefit from either a
protective mask or a transfer to a cleaner environment (C. St. ¶¶
Motorola declined to provide Cebertowicz with a mask (though it would
have permitted her to buy and use one herself), instead allowing her to
choose a transfer to an alternate duty position in the finance department
effective October 29, 1997 (M. St. ¶ 35). Cebertowicz was satisfied
with that transfer, which she considered to be a "reasonable
accommodation" (M. St. ¶ 36). While working in that alternate
position, Cebertowicz experienced a significant reduction in her symptoms
and was able to perform that job comfortably (id.). With the exception of
a brief period in December 1997 when she experienced problems due to
increased dust mite allergens in the winter, her allergies and asthma
were "well controlled" throughout her time in that position (M. St.
¶¶ 37-40, 42)
On February 4, 1999 Cebertowicz' alternate duty position ended (M. St.
¶ 41).*fn2 That was the last day of her employment with Motorola
(id.).*fn3 After she left Motorola Cebertowicz' symptoms remained well
controlled, with the exception of brief episodes of heartburn that
occurred after she ate spicy foods (M. St. ¶¶ 43, 45-47). Indeed, from
the time that Cebertowicz was diagnosed with allergies and asthma in
December 1996 through her most recently documented doctor's visit in
2001, her physician ...