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Reynolds v. Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District

January 28, 2009

JOSHUA REYNOLDS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHAMPAIGN-URBANA MASS TRANSIT DISTRICT, AND WILLIAM VOLK, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY Chief U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This case is before the court for ruling on the Motion for Summary Judgment (#24) filed by Defendant, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. This court has carefully reviewed the arguments of the parties and the documents provided by the parties. Following this careful and thorough review, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (#24) is GRANTED. In addition, Plaintiff's claim against Defendant William Volk is dismissed with prejudice and Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Discovery Order (#28) is DENIED as moot.

FACTS

Plaintiff, Joshua Reynolds, began his employment with Defendant in March 2001. He was hired as a bus operator. Plaintiff's employment was terminated in February 2007. In a letter dated February 6, 2007, Robert Patton, Director of Operations for Defendant, stated that Plaintiff was terminated. Patton stated that "[u]pon investigation it was confirmed that you in fact were inappropriately adding extra time to your work day and in some cases had left the property prior to the time you had recorded on your waybill." On December 7, 2007, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). On January 31, 2008, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue.

On April 1, 2008 Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (#1). On April 8, 2008, Plaintiff's Motion was granted and his pro se Complaint (#6) against Defendant and William Volk was filed in this court. Plaintiff's Complaint was written on a form which stated that the action was brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant began a "harassment campaign" after being notified of a work-related shoulder problem in June 2004. Plaintiff alleged that, in 2004 through 2007, he was "harassed by supervisors, denied lunch/restroom breaks, written up for using restroom during work, given disciplinary actions from fabricated infractions." Plaintiff also alleged that he was "[h]arassed and not given promotions/demoted by management." Plaintiff alleged that he was terminated in 2007 "as soon as management received word that my doctor had prescribed an ergonomic study to be done on the job for my shoulder."

On May 13, 2008, Defendant filed its Answer (#11). Defendant denied that any harassment campaign was begun against Plaintiff, denied any harassment by Plaintiff's supervisors, denied that any discipline was imposed on Plaintiff without legitimate business purposes and denied that there was any connection between any prescribed physical therapy or other treatment and Plaintiff's discharge. Also on May 13, 2008, Volk filed a Motion to Dismiss (#12), arguing that Plaintiff's pro se Complaint did not include any mention of any wrongdoing on the part of Volk, individually.

On June 17, 2008, Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal entered a Report and Recommendation (#17). Judge Bernthal recommended granting Volk's Motion to Dismiss and allowing Plaintiff leave to amend his Complaint to allege his claims against Volk by stating what Volk did. Plaintiff did not file any Objections to Judge Bernthal's Report and Recommendation.

Instead, on July 2, 2008, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Extension of Time to Amend Complaint (#20). On July 14, 2008, this court entered an Order (#23). This court accepted Judge Bernthal's Report and Recommendation. Therefore, this court granted Volk's Motion to Dismiss and allowed Plaintiff 14 days to amend his Complaint. This court further concluded that 14 days from the date of this court's Order was adequate time for Plaintiff to file an amended Complaint, so this court denied Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time.

Plaintiff did not file an amended Complaint within 14 days of this court's Order or, in fact, at any time. Accordingly, the claim against Volk is dismissed with prejudice and Volk is terminated as a party to this case.

On October 2, 2008, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (#24), with attached documentation. In its Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, Defendant stated that, during Plaintiff's employment with Defendant, he was paid on an hourly basis and was eligible for overtime pay. Defendant stated that, in order to apply for overtime, bus operators were required to turn in timesheets evidencing the amount of time worked beyond their regularly scheduled hours. Defendant also stated that, during the relevant time period, Defendant's employee handbook stated that "intentionally falsifying any reports, written or oral, related to job duties or responsibilities" constituted a Class A violation which can result in discharge. Defendant stated that its employee handbook was available to its employees in hard copy or electronic form.

Defendant stated that, around December 2006, Robert Patton, Defendant's Director of Operations, discovered there were discrepancies between Plaintiff's timesheets and Defendant's records. Patton then began an investigation of these discrepancies. Based upon Plaintiff's timesheets, videotapes of Plaintiff's bus, supervisor reports and accounting records, Patton determined that Plaintiff had engaged in a pattern of falsifying his timesheets since May or June of 2006. Plaintiff's falsification of his timesheets resulted in Defendant paying him overtime pay which he did not earn. Patton terminated Plaintiff's employment in February 2007 solely because the falsification of his timesheets violated Defendant's written employment policies.

In support of its Statement of Undisputed Facts, Defendant attached Patton's affidavit and a copy of the applicable portion of Defendant's employee handbook. Defendant also attached copies of numerous supervisor reports, incident reports and Plaintiff's timesheets. This documentation showed that supervisors and other witnesses submitted reports which stated that Plaintiff completed his work at times earlier than the time Plaintiff wrote on his timesheets. Defendant also attached a copy of Patton's letter to Plaintiff, dated February 6, 2007, in which Patton informed Plaintiff that his investigation confirmed that Plaintiff was "inappropriately adding extra time to your work day and in some cases had left the property prior to the time you had recorded on your waybill." In his letter, Patton also stated that, under the terms of the employee handbook, this was a Class A violation which could result in discharge. Patton stated that, based upon the issues involved, Plaintiff was discharged as an employee of Defendant, effective immediately.

Defendant argued that, given every benefit of the doubt, Plaintiff's Complaint appeared to allege claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for discrimination and retaliation. Defendant argued that it was entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's discrimination claim under the ADA because: (1) Plaintiff has not shown that he is disabled under the definition of the ADA; (2) Plaintiff has not shown a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA; and (3) there is no question that Defendant terminated Plaintiff for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason. Defendant also argued that it was entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's retaliation claim under the ADA because: (1) Plaintiff has not shown evidence in support of a prima facie case of retaliation under the ADA; and (2) Defendant's reason for terminating Plaintiff was legitimate and non-discriminatory.

On November 12, 2008, Plaintiff filed his Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (#26). Plaintiff stated that he was injured while working for Defendant and had subsequent shoulder surgery. Plaintiff stated that, when he returned to work in 2005, he was immediately subjected to harassment, biased write-ups and other unfair retaliation. Plaintiff stated that he asked upper management to end the campaign against him but they never did. Plaintiff also stated that Defendant never made any attempt to accommodate his disability. Plaintiff stated that, during the last few months before he was terminated, he missed several days of work because of his shoulder. Plaintiff stated that he was seen by several doctors. On January 23, 2007, the company doctor released him to return to work. On January 31, 2007, his shoulder doctor prescribed an ergonomic study to be done at work. Plaintiff stated that, while he was at work on February 3 and February 4, 2007, he talked openly about his doctor prescribing the ergonomic study. Plaintiff stated that, on February 5, 2007, Patton and Tom Costello, Defendant's assistant Managing ...


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