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Crabb v. SIU School of Medicine

April 29, 2010

JENNIFER CRABB, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SIU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the Court on Defendant SIU School of Medicine's Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 7). Pro se Plaintiff Jennifer Crabb alleges that she is an individual with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. According to Crabb, the Defendant, Crabb's former employer, violated the ADA by failing to accommodate her disability, discriminating against her based on her disability, and retaliating against her for asserting her right to reasonable accommodations. Complaint (d/e 1). Defendant asserts that it is entitled to summary judgment on each of Plaintiff's claims. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is allowed.

BACKGROUND

Crabb was hired by the Defendant as an Ambulatory Care Aide II in Defendant's Department of Internal Medicine on November 11, 2002. The primary function of the Ambulatory Care Aide II position was to serve as an initial contact person for the Department of Internal Medicine and to answer, screen, and direct all calls coming into the Department. See Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. 2, Affidavit of Kay Titchenal (Titchenal Aff.), Ex. 5, Position Description.

The record reveals that Crabb suffers from depression and anxiety disorder. In 2007, Crabb requested intermittent Family and Medical Leave for the period from October 2, 2007, through March 31, 2008. See Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq. In connection with this request, Crabb submitted a form entitled "SIU School of Medicine, Office of Human Resources, Employee Medical Leave -- Certification of Physician or Practitioner," dated September 24, 2007. Plaintiff's Response to Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 9) (Plaintiff's Response), Ex 4. The form was completed by licensed clinical social worker Tami Skaggs-Braidwood, who explained that Crabb required weekly psychotherapy sessions to address symptoms of depression and anxiety and that she may also need time off work to stabilize if her symptoms became exacerbated. Skaggs-Braidwood opined that Crabb was able to perform the functions of her position. Defendant approved Crabb's request for intermittent Family and Medical Leave and advised Crabb's supervisor of her need to use intermittent leave but not of the underlying medical condition necessitating the leave.

In April 2008, Skaggs-Braidwood completed a form entitled "Request for Medical Documentation" from SIU's Office of Human Resources. Plaintiff's Response, Ex. 5. Skaggs-Braidwood indicated that Crabb could work 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and could "function as an Ambulatory Care Aide II," with the following exceptions: (1) when experiencing an anxiety attack, Crabb would need to leave work to "regulate" and (2) at times, Crabb would experience anxiety that would prevent her from reporting to work. Id., p. 1. Skaggs-Braidwood reiterated Crabb's need for weekly therapy sessions to manage anxiety and depression. Id., p. 2. Without elaboration, Skaggs-Braidwood opined that Crabb would benefit from a transfer out of the Internal Medicine Department.

On April 8, 2008, the Defendant granted Crabb intermittent Family and Medical Leave for the period from April 1, 2008, through June 30, 2008, for occasional absences and to attend medical appointments. Plaintiff's Response, Ex. 6. Defendant informed Crabb that, should she need additional Family and Medical Leave after June 30, 2008, she was required to submit additional supporting medical documentation. Defendant also informed Crabb that she was entitled to a maximum of 450 hours of Family and Medical Leave within a one-year period.

On June 24, 2008, Plaintiff failed to report to work. Plaintiff asserts that she called her supervisor, Brenda Marcum, and informed her that she would not be at work because she was being hospitalized. Plaintiff's Response, p. 1. Plaintiff states that she told Marcum that she did not know when she would be able to return to work. Id.

Plaintiff was hospitalized from June 24 to June 27, 2008. She entered an "intensive partial hospitalization program" on June 30, 2008. Response, p. 1. On July 3, 2008, Kay Titchenal, Executive Director of the Office of Human Resources for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, sent Plaintiff a letter requesting that Plaintiff telephone the Office of Human Resources and report the reason for her absence from work. Titchenal Aff., Ex. 11. Also on July 3, 2008, Lisa Adams, a benefits counselor in Defendant's Office of Human Resources, sent Plaintiff a cover memorandum and a number of forms purported to relate to Plaintiff's "continuous absence." Id., Ex. 12. The forms included a Leave Application, a Leave Certification of Physician or Practitioner, and a Release to Work form. Adams carbon copied Marcum, among others, on the memo.

By letter dated July 9, 2008, Defendant granted Crabb continuous leave from June 24, 2008, through August 5, 2008. Titchenal Aff., Ex. 13. The letter noted that Crabb had been approved for continuous Family and Medical Leave from June 24, 2008, through 11:15 a.m. on July 16, 2008, at which point she would have exhausted her current Family and Medical Leave Act entitlement. The letter further noted that Crabb had been approved for Extended Sick Leave Benefits for a total of 150 hours from July 1, 2008, through July 29, 2008. Additionally, the letter indicated that it was estimated that Crabb would be released to return to work on or before August 6, 2008, and that prior to returning to work, Crabb was required to submit a Release to Work form to the Office of Human Resources.

Titchenal avers that Crabb's Family and Medical Leave expired on July 16, 2008, that from July 16 through August 1, 2008, Crabb received time off under Extended Sick Leave Benefits, and that, beginning August 1, 2008, Crabb's leave became unpaid. Titchenal Aff. ¶ 13. On July 24, 2008, Adams spoke with Crabb on the telephone regarding Crabb's request for a State Universities Retirement System disability application. Adams informed Crabb that she would be required to provide medical documentation if she did not return to work on August 6, 2008. Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. 1, Affidavit of Lisa Adams (Adams Aff.), ¶ 2. Crabb asked Adams if she could turn in the medical documentation when she submitted her disability application. Adams informed her that the medical documentation should be turned in as soon as possible and not with the disability application. Id.

Crabb contacted Adams on August 1 and August 7, 2008, stating each time that she had not yet received the disability application. According to Adams, Crabb did not inquire about the medical documentation or returning to work. Adams Aff., ¶ 3. On September 16, 2008, Crabb contacted Benefits Manager Kim Kavish to inquire about returning to work. On September 18, 2008, Adams contacted Crabb and explained the return to work process. Adams also informed Crabb that she needed to provide medical documentation to authorize her absence from August 6, 2008, forward. Id., ¶ 4 & Ex. 20.

Crabb provided Defendant with an Employee Release to Work Form, signed by James Black, M.D. dated September 24, 2008. Plaintiff's Response, Ex. 7. Dr. Black indicated that Crabb received treatment through August 25, 2008, in a partial hospitalization program at Memorial Medical Center. He further indicated that Crabb "[m]ay return to work on 9/25/08 with no restrictions." Id. (emphasis in the original). Crabb returned to work on September 29, 2008, the first Monday following her release to work.

On September 30, 2008, Adams informed Crabb that Defendant was still in need of documentation from Dr. Black indicating that Crabb was unable to work from August 6 through September 25, 2008. Adams Aff., ΒΆ 5 & Ex. 21. In an email exchange among Crabb, Adams, and Susan Herron from the Illinois Department of Labor, Crabb was informed that she was not eligible for additional ...


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