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Langlois v. Dep't of Human Services

November 13, 2008

STEVEN J. LANGLOIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, STATE OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge

ORDER

The plaintiff, Steven J. Langlois ("Langlois") commenced this action on August 29, 2006. Langlois claims that his employer, Shapiro Development Center (Shapiro), a facility operated by the State of Illinois Department of Human Services, ("DHS"), discriminated against him because of his disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.

DHS has filed a motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion [28] remains pending to allow for further briefing.

BACKGROUND

Shapiro is a mental health facility that provides services to individuals with mental health problems or developmental disabilities. Langlois worked at Shapiro as a Mental Health Technician I from October 1998 to April 2005. Langlois was responsible for the care of up to eight resident clients in a particular wing and floor at Shapiro.

Langlois suffers from major depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. In May 2004, a co-worker at Shapiro saw Langlois standing in the street trying to get run over by a car. The co-worker took Langlois to St. Mary's Hospital in Kankakee, Illinois, where he stayed for several days. Upon discharge he was prescribed antidepressant medication.

Shapiro's General Personnel Policy addresses sleeping on the job: "38. SLEEPING ON DUTY - First time - 15 day suspension; second offense is cause for discharge." Shapiro General Personnel Policy, ¶ 38. On September 27, 2004, Langlois was cited for sleeping while on duty. He had a pre-disciplinary hearing, after which DHS determined that he had, in fact, been sleeping while on duty. Langlois received a fifteen-day suspension.

In December 2004, Langlois started taking Lexapro, an antidepressant medication. A possible side effect of Lexapro is sleepiness.

On March 8, 2005 Langlois worked a double shift, from 2:45 p.m. until 7:00 the next morning. He reported for work at 2:45 p.m. on March 9, 2005, for the start of his regular shift. His personnel records indicate that he was caught sleeping about two hours into his shift, at 4:55 p.m. A pre-disciplinary hearing was held, at which Langlois presented DHS with a note from his physician indicating that he was taking Lexapro, a side effect of which was sleepiness. DHS determined from the evidence presented at the hearing that Langlois had been sleeping on duty on March 9, 2005. He was discharged on April 26, 2005.

Langlois cannot now remember how many pills he took on the day of the second sleeping incident. When deposed, Langlois stated that he'd been working so much that he couldn't keep track of how much medication he'd been taking. Langlois Dep. 64. Langlois further explained that he took his daily dose of Lexapro at different times of the day, depending on his work schedule: "So, you know, I take it in the morning if I was only working in the evening, and I did take it in the afternoon if I was only working in the morning." Sometimes he took an extra pill, but "there are some days I can't remember how many I'd taken." Langlois admitted that, on those days, it was possible he had taken more than two pills, perhaps as many as five. Langlois Dep. 38-39. After the incident, Langlois reported to his doctor that he had been discharged from his job because he fell asleep at work*fn1 and told her that he couldn't remember how many times he had taken his Lexapro. Pappa Dep. 10. Dr. Pappa states that if more than the prescribed amount is taken, it can exacerbate the sleepiness. Pappa Dep. 10.

Langlois filed a charge with the EEOC, stating that in December 2004 and March 2005 he was disciplined for "allegedly sleeping on the job." He stated that he was subsequently discharged and that co-workers accused of similar actions were not discharged from employment. He believed he was discriminated against because of his disability in violation of the ADA.*fn2

ANALYSIS

Summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Any discrepancies in the factual record should be evaluated in the non-movant's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). The party moving for summary judgment must show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

"Summary judgment is the 'put up or shut up' moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of events." Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2000). A party opposing summary judgment bears the burden to respond, not simply by resting on its own pleading but by "set[ting] out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). In order to be a "genuine" issue, there must be more than "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, ...


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