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Langlois v. Dep't of Human Services

November 25, 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 ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

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 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.

DHS filed a motion for summary judgment. After a careful review of the motion, response, and reply, the court ordered the parties to file supplemental briefs addressing the initial inquiry in any ADA case: whether the plaintiff is disabled within the meaning of the ADA. For the following reasons, the court concludes that Langlois does not have a disability within the meaning of the ADA and grants the defendant's motion for summary judgment.

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 suffers from major depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. In May 2004, after a brief hospital stay, Langlois was discharged and 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. In September 2004, Langlois was cited for sleeping while on duty. He received a fifteen-day suspension.

In December 2004, Langlois began to take Lexapro, an antidepressant medication. A possible side effect of Lexapro is sleepiness. Langlois was aware of the side effect. He states that he did not always work the same shift, so to minimize the impact of this side effect on his employment, he took his daily dose of Lexapro when the side effect would be less likely to interfere with his work. As a result, he did not take his medication at the same time every day.

On March 8, 2005, Langlois was again caught sleeping while on duty.*fn1 At a pre-disciplinary hearing, Langlois presented DHS with a note from his physician indicating that he was taking Lexapro, a side effect of which was sleepiness.*fn2 He was terminated from his job on April 26, 2005.

Langlois' prescription was for one daily dose of Lexapro. But he did not always adhere to the dosage prescribed by his doctor. Sometimes he would take two or more -- and as many as five -- doses in a single day. When deposed, Langlois stated that the day before the second sleeping incident, he'd worked two shifts, taken one shift off, and then returned the next day for his regular work shift. He explained to his supervisor as he was escorted from the work site that he'd been working so much that he couldn't keep track of how much medication he'd been taking. He also told his doctor about the incident, stating that he couldn't remember how many times he'd taken his Lexapro.*fn3

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.

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, 586 (1986). "If [the non-movant] does not [meet his burden], summary judgment should, if appropriate, be entered against [the non-movant]." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

The ADA states, "No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures . . . discharge of employees . . . and other terms, ...


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