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MANNING v. UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

August 24, 2005.

IMOGENE MANNING Plaintiff,
v.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, HOSPITALS, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WAYNE ANDERSEN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM, OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is the defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff, Imogene Manning, was an employee of the defendant, University of Chicago Hospitals ("Hospital"), for over thirty years spanning from August 1971 until her discharge on April 9, 2003. (Local Rule 56.1(a) Statement of Facts "SOF" ¶¶ 16-17.) Beginning in 1996 until her discharge, Manning worked as an outpatient service representative, performing registration and patient inquiry functions for outpatient appointments. (Id. ¶ 7.)

  On June 15, 2001, Manning took a medical leave of absence to undergo surgery and treatment for bladder cancer. (Id. ¶ 20.) On December 20, 2001, while on leave, Manning notified her supervisors in the Outpatient Services Department ("Department") that she would be able to return to work on January 7, 2002. (Id. ¶ 22.) When Manning presented herself for reinstatement on January 7, 2002, she had completed cancer treatment, her cancer was in remission, and her physician had released her for work with no medical restrictions. (Resp. to SOF ¶ 23.) She admits her only limitations were some discomfort when sitting on bar-stool height chairs and difficulty walking long distances. (Id.)

  On January 7, 2002, Manning met with human resources personnel, who requested that she take an assessment test to assist in identifying open and available positions throughout the Hospital for which she was qualified. (Id. ¶ 27.) Based on advice she received from her union representatives, Manning never took the assessment test, believing it was not required under the union's collective bargaining agreement. (Id. ¶¶ 27-28.)

  After filing a grievance with her union, Manning was reinstated to her position on April 7, 2002. (Id. ¶ 29.) On May 15, 2002, she filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging the Hospital's actions in not reinstating her on January 7, 2002 constituted disability discrimination. (Id.)

  In the months following the filing of her EEOC charge on May 15, 2002, Manning alleges she was subjected to less favorable treatment than her coworkers and was given less favorable job assignments. Accordingly, on October 7, 2002, she filed another charge with the EEOC alleging retaliation. She was issued a notice of her right to sue on May 23, 2003.

  During the last several years of her tenure with the Hospital, Manning received negative performance evaluations. From 1996 through June 2001, the period before Manning went on medical leave, she received annual evaluations of her work performance. (Id. ¶ 18.) Manning admits she consistently received an overall rating of "1" or "2," which indicated she needed improvement. (Id.) After she returned to work, her performance did not improve. Approximately nine months after her return, in January 2003, her department implemented a new method of auditing employees' work. The managers began reviewing employees' daily work logs and randomly selected approximately five accounts listed on the log. (Id. ¶ 35.) The managers then reviewed those patient accounts and completed a quality assurance audit report. (Id. ¶ 36.) New employees or those having performance issues were audited using the daily work log method. (SOF ¶ 37.)

  Because Manning had performance problems and had been recently reinstated, department managers began reviewing her daily work log. The managers reported that for the period April 2002 through April 2003, she made errors on approximately sixty percent of the patient accounts she worked. (SOF ¶ 47.) Manning admits she received a counseling memorandum detailing her poor performance on June 17, 2002, followed by a written warning on August 26, 2002 and a three-day suspension starting October 9, 2002 for poor work performance. (Resp. to SOF ¶ 50.) On February 3, 2003, the Department issued a second three-day suspension for poor work performance and advised her that if her performance did not improve within 60 days, her employment would be terminated. (Id. ¶ 51.) Citing her poor work performance, the Hospital discharged Manning on April 9, 2003. (Id.)

  On June 26, 2003, Manning filed a second charge of retaliation with the EEOC (her third EEOC charge) alleging that her discharge on April 9, 2003 was in retaliation for filing previous charges with the EEOC. On July 8, 2003, she was issued a notice of her right to sue in federal court.

  On August 19, 2003, Manning filed a six-count complaint against the Hospital in this Court. In Count I, she alleges a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") for failure to reasonably accommodate. In Count III, she alleges the Hospital subjected her to less favorable treatment than similarly situated employees in retaliation for having filed an EEOC charge of discrimination on May 15, 2002. In Count V, she alleges the Hospital terminated her employment on April 9, 2003 in retaliation for having filed previous EEOC charges. In Counts II, IV, and VI, Manning also alleges violations of the Illinois Human Rights Act. On September 24, 2004, however, this Court granted plaintiff's own motion to voluntarily dismiss these state law claims. The Hospital now seeks summary judgment on the remaining Counts I, III, and V.

  STANDARD OF REVIEW

  Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is appropriate in a situation where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admission 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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-323 (1986). The Court's function is "not to weigh the evidence but merely to determine if `there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Jackson v. Illinois MediCar, Inc., 300 F.3d 760, 764 (7th Cir. 2002) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). ...


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