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GREVAS v. VILLAGE OF OAK PARK

December 19, 2002

KATHRYN M. GREVAS, PLAINTIFF,
V.
VILLAGE OF OAK PARK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ruben Castillo, United States District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Kathryn Grevas ("Grevas") sued the Village of Oak Park, Illinois ("Village") under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., claiming that the Village discriminated against her because she suffered from depression and because of her race. Presently before the Court is the Village's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). After careful consideration, we grant the Village's motion in its entirety. (R. 38-1.)

RELEVANT FACTS*fn1

In August 1999 Grevas, a Caucasian, applied for and was offered a position as Executive Secretary in the Village's Human Resources department. (R. 39. Def.'s Facts, ¶¶ 13-15.) Rodney Marion, who is African-American, is the Director of the Human Resources department. (Id. at ¶¶ 3, 14.) He is responsible for hiring within the department, as well as assigning duties based on the strengths of the employee and the department's needs. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Aside from Grevas, the department included the following individuals: (1) Marion was the Director, (id. at ¶ 3); (2) Colleen Temesvari, a Caucasian, was the Human Resources Representative, (id. at ¶ 4); (3) Phleace Crichlow, an African-American, was the Employee Relations Assistant, (id. at ¶ 5); and (4) Estella Sanders and Jacquelyn Jamison, who is African-American, held the position of Administrative Secretary at various times during Grevas's tenure at the Village, (id. at ¶¶ 6-7).

At some point after Grevas's probationary period, Marion began noticing problems with Grevas's performance at work. For example, Grevas was responsible for processing employee status forms, which notify the Village Payroll department of changes affecting employees' salaries or benefits (Id. at ¶ 31.) In July 2000 personnel from other departments complained to Marion that employee forms processed by Grevas routinely contained errors, were submitted more than once and were often submitted late. (Id. Ex. 11, Munizza Aff. ¶ 4, Ex. 12, Peters Aff. ¶ 4.) Other Human Resources department personnel also noticed shortcomings in Grevas's work; Colleen Temesvari testified in her deposition that Grevas exhibited incompetency in many areas of her work, including a lack of timeliness in executing certain forms and inefficient prioritization of office tasks. (Id., Ex. 3, Temesvari Dep. at 44-46.) On one occasion, unsigned employee status forms were found in Grevas's desk when she was out sick, (id., Ex. 2, Jamison Dep. at 33); because Grevas had not timely submitted the forms, some employees failed to receive earned pay increases, (id., Ex. 7, Marion Aff. ¶ 28).

Grevas also began experiencing conflicts with her coworkers. Although the parties present widely divergent versions of these incidents, certain facts and inferences are undisputed in July 2000 Jacquelyn Jamison was hired as an Administrative Secretary in the Human Resources department. (Id., Ex. 2, Jamison Dep. at 6.) Jamison's duties included filing, answering phones, assisting with training and providing clerical and administrative support to the department. (Id.) Almost immediately conflicts arose between Jamison and Grevas regarding scheduling lunch breaks and assignment of duties, and Marion was forced to intervene. (Id., Ex. 7, Marion Aff. ¶ 30; R. 48, Grevas Aff. ¶ 39). Grevas admitted that during her meeting with Jamison and Marion she was angry, stressed and frustrated and that her actions may have seemed Marion Aff. ¶ 53.) Wiggins conducted a thorough investigation; he interviewed eight Village employees, including the seven named in Grevas's complaint, along with Grevas herself (Id., Ex. 13, Wiggins Aff. ¶ 5.) On November 10, 2000, a final exchange occurred between Marion and Grevas, which other members of the department witnessed, and which ultimately resulted in Marion sending Grevas home for the day. (Id. Ex. 7, Marion Aff. ¶ 50.) Again, the parties widely dispute the particulars of the incident, but it is clear that some sort of conflict involving Grevas ensued, and there is no question that Grevas was suspended as a result of it. (Id.)

Wiggins completed his investigation into Grevas's harassment memo on January 31, 2001, and concluded that Grevas had not been harassed. (Id., Ex. A, Jan. 31. 2001 Investigation Report.) He then began investigating the November 10, 2000 incident. He determined, based in part on Marion's suggestion, that Grevas's employment should be terminated because of her poor job performance, prior misconduct and interpersonal problems with other Village staff (Id., Ex. 7, Marion Aff. ¶ 55; Ex. 13, Wiggins Aff. ¶ 6.)

Finally, the parties dispute when the Village first became aware of Grevas's depression. Grevas asserts that Village was aware of her depression from the outset because she identified the condition on an employment form. (R. 49, Grevas Aff. ¶ 50.) The Village claims that it was not until September 2000 that Grevas informed Marion that she had a psychological disorder. (R. 39, Def.'s Facts, Ex. 7, Marion Aff. ¶ 37.) In support the Village notes that Grevas did not identify any mental illness or emotional problems during her pre-employment physical with the Village's occupational health care provider. (Id., Ex. 16, Pre-employment Physical Record.) Grevas also denied having any past or present disability on a occupational hazard form during her physical. (Id.) In any event, Grevas acknowledges that the only potential accommodation that she requested because of her alleged depression was a brief break during work to collect herself or time off from work. (R. 49, Grevas Aff. ¶ 50.) Grevas admitted in her deposition that the only occasion on which she was denied a break was after the November 10, 2000 incident, (R. 39, Def.'s Facts ¶¶ 51, 63; Ex. 1, Grevas Dep. at 359-361); instead of a break that day, Grevas was sent home.

LEGAL STANDARDS

Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). This rule "mandates an approach in which summary judgment is proper only if there is no reasonably contestable issue of fact that is potentially outcome-determinative." E.E.O.C. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2000). In resolving a motion for summary judgment. this Court will neither decide factual disputes nor weigh conflicting evidence. Id. Instead, this Court limits its inquiry to whether a genuine issue of material fact exists for trial. Id. In doing so, we view the evidence and draw all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. But a nonmoving party cannot survive summary judgment with a mere scintilla of evidence supporting its position; the party must present definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion. Id. at 437 (citing Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 427 (7th Cir. 1997)).*fn2

ANALYSIS

Grevas alleges that the Village discriminated against her because of her disability when it fired her and failed to reasonably accommodate her depression. Grevas also claims that the Village discriminated against her by firing her because she is Caucasian. In order to establish a claim of disability discrimination under the ADA, the plaintiff must show that: (1) she is a person with a disability as defined in the Act; (2) she was qualified for the job that she was performing; and (3) the employer terminated her because of her disability or failed to reasonably accommodate that disability. Basith v. Cook County, 241 F.3d 919, 926-27 (7th Cir. 2001). Because Grevas has not met her burden of showing that her major life activity of sleeping was substantially limited by her depression, her ADA claim fails.

For purposes of the ADA, a disability is a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." 42 U.S.C. § 12102 (2). Depression can constitute a "mental impairment" under the ADA. Krocka v. City of Chi, 203 F.3d 507, 512 (7th Cir. 2000). Major life activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working, as well as sleeping. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2 (i); see also Arnold v. Cook County, 220 F. Supp.2d 893, 896 (N.D. Ill. 2002). The Court must consider several factors when assessing whether an impairment is substantially limiting: (1) its nature and severity; (2) its duration or expected duration; and (3) its permanent or long-term impact or its expected impact. See § 1630.2(j)(2). See also Duda v. Bd. of Educ. of Franklin Park Pub. Sch. Dist., 133 F.3d 1054, 1058 n. 5 (7th Cir. 1998). Therefore, in order for a major life activity to be substantially limited a plaintiff must show that she, as ...


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