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Idahosa v. Nord Cleaning Service

August 29, 2007

ROBERT O. IDAHOSA PLAINTIFF,
v.
NORD CLEANING SERVICE, INC, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge

ORDER

Now before the Court is Defendant Nord Cleaning Service's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion [#30] is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

JURISDICTION

The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as the claims asserted in the Complaint present federal questions under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12101 et seq. ("ADA").

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Robert Idahosa ("Idahosa") began working for Nord Cleaning Service ("Nord") on January 22, 2001. He supervised various sites in the Peoria area at which Nord had cleaning contracts. His initial rate of pay was $9.00 per hour. By 2002, his rate was increased to $10.50 per hour, which, according to Nord, is the highest wage payable to the class of supervisors to which Idahosa belonged. When Idahosa first began working for Nord, he was a full-time employee. However, at some point before May 2004, he decreased his hours to five hours per day, five days a week, and took a second job at Heartland Head Start.

Idahosa apparently requested a raise in 2003, but his request was denied. Another Nord employee, John Farnam, who is Caucasian, was promoted in 2002 to the full-time position of Area Supervisor, and received an annual salary exceeding Idahosa's salary. Idahosa was reimbursed for some, but not all, of the mileage related to his position. Farnam was apparently reimbursed for all of his mileage. Idahosa also alleges that Nord reimbursed Farnam and another employee for one-half the cost of AFLAC supplemental insurance, but he was not similarly reimbursed; however, Nord asserts that all Nord employees electing coverage under AFLAC were responsible for the full amount of the premiums. Finally, Idahosa alleges that he was denied unpaid medical leave, but Farnam and "other Caucasians" were given unpaid medical leave. Nord disputes that it denied anyone, including Idahosa, unpaid medical leave.

While working at Heartland Head Start in May 2004, Idahosa injured his shoulder. He had surgery on June 16, 2004, and as a result, took a period of unpaid leave from Nord. Idahosa testified that he was supposed to be off of work for six to eight weeks following his surgery, but his boss, Barry Nord, asked that he return to work on June 21, with the understanding that he would be doing only training, inspection, and small light-duty tasks. Idahosa also testified that, once he did return to work, there were more physical demands than those to which he had agreed.

According to Idahosa, his doctors placed him on a 10-pound weight restriction, and he was to refrain from doing pulling, lifting, pushing, or overhead work, and Nord knew about these restrictions. He states that, more than once after his post-surgery return to Nord, he asked to be allowed to work within his doctor's restrictions, or be allowed to return to his medical leave. Idahosa states that on August 25, 2004, Linda Sears, office manager for Nord, told him that he should not be going to work if he knew that he could not do the job, and that he told her that he could manage the supervising skills but not heavy lifting, pulling, and pushing that he had to do when covering for the regular cleaning employees. He states that he asked Sears about his medical leave options, and she told him that he did not qualify. According to Idahosa, Sears told him he should turn in his two-week notice with an "open end date" and said that she would try to talk to the company owner and see if he would approve medical leave; if he did approve the leave, she would throw away the notice. Idahosa also alleges that Sears told her he must give two weeks' notice to be eligible for re-hiring and might otherwise get a bad job reference if he did not provide adequate notice. Idahosa states he was eventually told his request for leave had been denied, and therefore, he had to quit. Nord disputes that it ever denied any request for unpaid leave.

According to Nord, Idahosa voluntarily terminated his employment with Nord on September 7, 2004; it cites to portions of Idahosa's deposition where he states that he left Nord Cleaning Service because he could not do the job, but that he left on good terms and said he would like to return when able. Idahosa has not asked to return to work at Nord.

On December 2, 2004, Idahosa filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), alleging that Nord had violated his rights under Title VII and the ADA. The EEOC issued Idahosa a Right to Sue Letter October 13, 2005, and Idahosa, proceeding pro se, filed the instant action on January 12, 2006, naming Nord Cleaning Service, Curt Nord (company owner), and Linda Sears (office manager), as defendants.

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, to which Idahosa filed a Response. By this Court's Order dated March 3, 2006, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss was granted in part and denied in part. All of Idahosa's claims against Curt Nord and Linda Sears were dismissed, as was the claim of discriminatory failure to promote based on race and the claim for compensatory and punitive damages arising out of retaliatory discharge under the ADA. Idahosa's surviving claims under Title VII are that he was discriminated against because of his race in that he was (1) denied payment for mileage, (2) denied insurance benefits, (3) denied wage increases, and (4) denied medical leave. Idahosa's surviving claims under the ADA are that he was (1) discharged because of a disability, and (2) denied a reasonable accommodation.

Nord filed this Motion for Summary Judgment on February 28, 2007, arguing that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all of Idahosa's claims. On April 5, 2007, the Court granted the Motion for Summary Judgment after Idahosa had failed to timely respond. Idahosa filed a Motion for Reconsideration on April 16, stating that, in a "Motion to Compel Production of Documents and Answers," filed March 15, he had asked for more time to respond to the Summary Judgment Motion. The Court vacated its Summary Judgment ...


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