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Gonzalez v. Illinois State Toll Highway Authority

September 14, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman


Plaintiff Frank Gonzalez has filed a four-count amended complaint against his former employer, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (the "Tollway"), alleging employment discrimination and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq.,*fn1 and the Illinois Public Works Employment Discrimination Act, 775 ILCS § 10 et seq. Count I, alleging discharge on the basis of disability, was brought under § 12112(a) of the ADA. Count II, alleging failure to provide reasonable accommodations of disability, and Count III, alleging participation in a contractual or other relationship that has the effect of discrimination on the basis of disability, were brought under § 12112(b) of the ADA. Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment on all counts.*fn2 For the reasons discussed below, the motion for summary judgment is denied.


In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court draws "all reasonable inferences from undisputed facts in favor of the nonmoving party and [views] the disputed evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Harney v. Speedway SuperAmerica, LLC, 526 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th Cir. 2008). The following facts are taken from the complaint and from the parties' statements of facts and accompanying exhibits as to which there is no material dispute.

Plaintiff was a part-time Toll Collector for the Tollway, an agency of the State of Illinois, from around May 1995 through April 2006. Senior Toll Collectors have set schedules, while Toll Collectors have variable schedules. A job description states that Toll Collectors must have "[t]he ability to work seven (7) days [a] week, twenty-fours hours a day, including night[s], weekends, and holidays," and plaintiff states that he "was to be available for scheduling to fill in for a Senior Toll Collector as needed, on any shift."*fn3

Defendant employed Vincent Volante as General Manager of Toll Services and Reid Mullin as Plaza Manager. Mullin was superior to Plaza Supervisors Bob Howlett and Ross Ianello, who directly supervised the Toll Collectors. Mullin, Howlett, and Ianello shared the duty of scheduling the Toll Collectors.

During the relevant period of January 2005 through April 2006, plaintiff missed work on a number of occasions for medical reasons. While working for defendant, plaintiff "suffered from lower back (lumbar) problems aggravated by stress, anxiety and severe depression, later diagnosed as bipolar disorder, and was taking prescription medications for those disabilities." Medication made plaintiff groggy and tired, and he sought morning shifts because he took medication later in the day as his symptoms worsened. Plaintiff indicated that he would be able to perform his job if scheduled for as many morning shifts as other Toll Collectors.*fn4

On June 27, 2005, September 12, 2005, and January 11, 2006, plaintiff received two-, five-, and ten-day suspensions, respectively, for attendance-related violations. On April 24, 2006, Volante recommended that plaintiff be terminated for attendance-related violations. Thereafter, plaintiff was informed by letter of his suspension pending investigation for excessive absences and unavailability for scheduling. On May 16, 2006, plaintiff was informed by letter of his termination.

Although plaintiff never submitted forms to defendant to request an accommodation under the ADA, he alleges that his employment was terminated before he was able to obtain the requested reports and documentation from his physicians. Plaintiff brought doctor's notes to defendant, but did not bring reports and documentation because his "medical condition [was] nobody's business."


Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence demonstrates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Village Church v. Village of Long Grove, 468 F.3d 975, 988 (7th Cir. 2006). The burden is on the moving party to identify portions of the pleadings, answers to interrogatories, and affidavits that demonstrate an absence of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323 (1986). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to "set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2).

When reviewing a summary judgment motion, the court must read the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The court's role "is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a genuine ...

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