The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRY LEINENWEBER, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Trish Wiggen (hereinafter "Wiggen") alleges that she
was terminated by her employer Defendant Leggett & Platt
(hereinafter "L&P") for disability discrimination and retaliation
in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA").
Before the Court is L&P's Motion for Summary Judgment, which is
Wiggen was employed by L&P's Batavia Branch from September 13,
1993 until she was terminated on August 31, 2001. Wiggen also
attended DeVry University and devoted approximately 25 hours per
week to her senior project. Presently and throughout her
employment at L&P, Wiggen suffered from migraine (severe tension)
headaches. See Def. SOF ¶¶ 119, 195. The migraine headaches
generally occur once a month and typically last two to three
days. See id. ¶¶ 124-125. Wiggen is self-sufficient and lives
alone. She has no limitations on major life activities. Wiggen occasionally has blackouts, feels nauseated, or dizzy when she
has a headache. See id. ¶¶ 126-138.
In addition to migraine headaches, Wiggen also suffered from
sinus headaches in 1998 and from June 2001 through April 2002.
See id. ¶¶ 139-141, 151-152. Wiggen also had a growth in her tear
duct which caused a fluid backup, adding pressure and aggravating
the headaches. See id. ¶¶ 154, 156. During July and August 2001,
Wiggen suffered from the combination of migraine and sinus
headaches. During that time, Wiggen vomited on a daily basis and
had nausea episodes and occasionally would pass out, or be unable
to eat, walk, light a cigarette, or drive due to her headaches.
See id. ¶¶ 161-62, 164-67. Despite her headaches, Wiggen
continued to report to work and keep current with her school
assignments. See id. ¶¶ 159-168.
A. Confrontations and Disruptions
James Zaerr ("Zaerr"), the branch manager, and Tina Robinson
("Robinson"), the office manager, were Wiggen's supervisors at
L&P. See id. ¶¶ 23-24, 30-33. Zaerr received numerous oral and
written reports of Wiggen's misconduct. See id. ¶¶ 104-113; Zaerr
Aff. ¶¶ 16-25, 34-39, 41, 43-45. Wiggen's working relationship
with Robinson was inconsistent and marked by frequent conflict.
See Def. SOF ¶¶ 42-43, 103. She had many confrontations with
Robinson throughout July and August, which resulted in workplace
disruptions. Most of the disagreements revolved around Wiggen's salary and time cards. Robinson and other co-workers documented
many of Wiggen's disruptions and confrontations in written and
oral complaints to Zaerr. See id. ¶¶ 56-62, 66-67.
Problems continued despite a meeting between Zaerr, Robinson
and Wiggen on August 10. On August 20, co-worker Stacie Lawhorn
documented a customer complaint about Wiggen's phone etiquette.
See id. ¶¶ 83-84. That same day, Wiggen wrote a memo to Zaerr
complaining about Danzer's phone etiquette. See id. ¶¶ 85-86. On
August 30, Wiggen argued with several L&P employees. Robinson
related one such dispute to Zaerr in a memorandum. See id. ¶¶
99-100. Wiggen also initiated a confrontation with co-worker
Lloyd Awe, and Awe wrote a memorandum to Zaerr complaining about
the manner in which Wiggen treated him. Robinson wrote a letter
to Zaerr about the dispute. See id. ¶¶ 93-97.
B. Wiggen's Medical and Discrimination-Related Complaints
In July 2001, Wiggen informed Robinson that she was having
severe migraines and was going to undergo testing. See id. ¶ 169.
She did not complain of discrimination because of her headaches.
On the same day, Wiggen wrote a letter to Jeff Hugey ("Hugey") at
L&P's corporate office, in which she reported that on one
occasion in July, Zaerr "informed [her] if [she] ever called
[L&P] corporate [offices] for a problem again he would fire
[her]." Def. Ex. N. In closing, Wiggen also stated that she
"personally believe[s] that both Mr. Zaerr and Mrs. Robinson
should be required to attend classes that will inform them what includes harassment and
discrimination on the job." Id. The remainder of the letter
related to paycheck discrepancy complaints, and there was no
mention of Wiggen's headaches.
On August 30, Wiggen wrote a second letter to Hugey, which she
sent only to him. See id. ¶¶ 176-178; Def. Ex. A. For the first
time, Wiggen referred to her medical condition, stating: "I am
under a doctor's care for a growth (tumor) whatever you want to
call it in my head which causes me to have horrible migraine
headaches and pain which would make me sound tired, which I am
due to lack of sleep which comes from much added stress from
here." Def. Exhibit A. She did not complain of discrimination
based upon her headaches. Also, on August 30, Wiggen informed
Zaerr about her sinus and tear duct problems and the worsening of
her headaches, as well as the surgeries she would need to relieve
those problems. Id. ¶¶ 172-174. She did not complain of
discrimination based upon her headaches.
Wiggen did not file a charge of discrimination until June 18,
2002, ten months after her termination from L&P. The charge
alleges only that:
On or around July 2001 I complained to Respondent
about disability discrimination but to no avail. On
August 30, 2001, I made Respondent aware of another
medical condition that I had and also complained
again to Respondent about disability discrimination.
On August 31, 2001, I was discharged. I believe that
I have been retaliated against due to my prior
complaints of disability discrimination . . ."
Zaerr decided to terminate Wiggen, after the "last straw" of
the major disruption caused by the confrontation Wiggen initiated
with Awe. Zaerr Aff. ¶¶ 38-39. On August 31, 2001, Zaerr
terminated Wiggen for disruptions in the workplace and failure to
get along with others. See Def. SOF ¶¶ 115. Zaerr relied upon the
oral and written complaints regarding Wiggen's conduct, as well
as his own personal observations of Wiggen's conduct. Id. ¶ 114.
Zaerr contends he was not aware of Wiggen's letter to Hugey until
after he had already decided to terminate Wiggen. See Zaerr Aff.
¶ 50. Wiggen purportedly "never complained to [Zaerr] of
discrimination based on any health condition or alleged
disability." Id. ¶ 52.
L&P also terminated eleven other employees between January 2000
and December 2001. See Def. SOF ¶ 198. None of those employees
had a disability or medical condition nor had they complained
about disability discrimination. Id. ¶¶ 197, 204. Two employees
were terminated due to a reduction in work force, and two were
terminated after a disciplinary process. The remaining employees