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Wilkes v. Potter

October 27, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable David H. Coar


Before this Court is defendant John Potter's ("Defendant") motion for summary judgment against plaintiff Glory Love Wilkes ("Plaintiff"). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.


Plaintiff is a 56 year old African-American female. On July 15, 1970, Plaintiff began her employment with the Defendant. In March 1982, Plaintiff began working as a Window Clerk --Level 5 at Defendant's Rogers Park Station. In April 1989, Plaintiff was given a bid assignment at Defendant's Norwood Park Station, with duty Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday off. Plaintiff continued to work at Norwood Park Station until her retirement in 2005.

Plaintiff suffered from uncontrolled hypertension. Plaintiff claims this condition affected her ability to think clearly and often left her tired. Plaintiff testified that as a result of the condition, she could not "function normal," and needed more rest. During 2002 to 2005, Plaintiff took medication, which was effective at controlling her hypertension.

FMLA Claim

The Postal Service ELM, Section 513.331 requires that leave for more than three days be scheduled and approved in advance if practicable, and that sick leave requests be supported with medical documentation explaining the reasons why the employee was incapacitated for duty. Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, full-time Postal Service employees accrue four hours of paid sick leave every two weeks, and are permitted to accumulate this sick leave over the years that they are employed. Accrued sick leave may be used when an employee is unable to work due to injury or illness, subject to advanced notice and medical documentation. If an employee's leave balance is exhausted or if an employee's request for sick leave is disapproved, the employee is not paid for the days the employee was absent, and the absence is characterized as "leave without pay" (LWOP) or "absent without leave" (AWOL).

In March 2002, Plaintiff submitted her request for leave under the FMLA. Plaintiff claims her documentation advised the Defendant of her medical condition, and stated the probable duration of her condition would be approximately one year. Plaintiff was absent from work from March 21, 2002 to April 29, 2002. On April 30, 2002, Plaintiff met with Defendant for questioning regarding her medical condition and her absences. Plaintiff was absent again from May 13, 2002 to May 16, 2002, and June 6, 2002 to June 23, 2002. Plaintiff claims that Defendant ignored and/or denied Plaintiff's FMLA leave requests and charged Plaintiff with an Absent Without Pay ("AWOP") status for the days she was absent from work. Plaintiff claims that she worked on May 10, 2002 without getting paid. Although Plaintiff cannot remember exact dates, Plaintiff claims she was erroneously charged with AWOP or LWOP on May 23, 2002. Postal records show that Plaintiff was not charged with leave without pay on May 23, 2002, but rather Plaintiff worked on that day and was properly paid. Defendant claims that all of Plaintiff's requests for FMLA leave have been approved, and no adverse actions were taken account of Plaintiff's FMLA claims.

In July 2003, Plaintiff claims she again requested FMLA sick leave, and was denied by Defendant. Defendant denies that Plaintiff requested FMLA sick leave. Plaintiff claims that she was not charged any sick leave or annual leave, even though she had the hours. On July 14, 2003, Plaintiff claims that she was forced to get a doctor's statement during work hours, and as a result was charged seven hours of leave without pay. On July 16, 2003, Plaintiff claims that Defendant forced her to go to first aid, and then denied her pay.

On July 26, 2003, Plaintiff requested and Defendant approved 56 hours of annual leave. However, Defendant paid Plaintiff 40 hours of annual leave, and charged Plaintiff with 16 hours of LWOP.

At the time of her retirement, Plaintiff had a sick leave balance of 20 hours, and an earned annual leave balance of 9.1 hours. Between August 25, 2003 and September 2005, Plaintiff used 296 hours of sick leave, and 403 hours of annual leave.

Title VII Rehabilitation Act Claims

In June 2002, Plaintiff claims that she was forced to take a fitness for duty examination after returning to work, and was not paid. In September 2002, the Postal Service offered window clerk duties to mail carriers. As a result, Plaintiff was denied the opportunity to work overtime hours as a window clerk. Plaintiff admits that all window clerks were equally affected by this assignment.

In August 2002 and October 2002, Plaintiff filed charges of discrimination against Defendant with the United Postal Service Equal Employment Opportunity Office. The charges were later consolidated under EEOC case number 210-2003-06359X. Plaintiff claims that as a result of the EEOC claims, Defendant retaliated against Plaintiff in February 2003, by changing Plaintiff's Regular Days Off ("RDO") from Saturday and Sunday to Sunday and Tuesday. Plaintiff alleges that on Saturdays, other clerks were allowed to start and finish early, but Plaintiff was ...

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