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Michael P. Edlebeck v. Trondent Development Corp

March 8, 2011

MICHAEL P. EDLEBECK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TRONDENT DEVELOPMENT CORP., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Michael Edlebeck has sued Trondent Development Corp. under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). He alleges that Trondent discriminated and retaliated against him when it terminated him after he suffered an injury in a traffic accident. Trondent has moved for summary judgment on all of Edlebeck's claims. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Trondent's motion.

Background

Edlebeck was a full-time employee of Trondent. Trondent provides web-based software applications and data management services to other companies. Trondent hired Edlebeck to work as a senior network administrator beginning in January 2008.

Trondent requires all its employees to follow the policies and guidelines in its employee manual. The manual contains, among other things, a provision providing unpaid medical leave to eligible full-time employees who, due to a medical problem, are temporarily unable to work. Under this policy, [a]s soon as an eligible employee becomes aware of a need for a medical leave of absence, he or she must provide a satisfactory statement from a physician that verifies the existence and nature of the medical disability. The statement must contain among other things, the approximate date the leave is expected to begin, its anticipated duration, and the date the employee can be expected to return to work. Any changes in this information should be promptly reported to the employer. When an unplanned medical situation or emergency occurs that does not allow the employee to provide advance notification of the need for a medical leave, the employee must notify the employer of the situation within three (3) working days of an absence. If an employee is absent for more than three (3) working days without notifying the employer, the employee will be considered to have voluntarily resigned.

Def.'s Mem., Ex. 8 at 33-34 (emphasis added).

On June 29, 2008, Edlebeck suffered multiple injuries in a traffic accident. He was hospitalized that night and was released on July 1. On June 30, the hospital left a message with Trondent to notify the company of Edlebeck's injury. Trondent acknowledged its receipt of the message the same day. On either July 1 or July 2, Edlebeck drove himself to Trondent's offices, spoke with some of his co-workers, and told Trondent's controller, Nancy Armstrong, that he had been injured in a traffic accident and was going on short-term disability. Armstrong provided Edlebeck with a blank short-term disability form. Her affidavit states that she told Edlebeck that, in accordance with the medical leave policy, he needed to provide Trondent with a doctor's note. See Def.'s Mem., Ex. 10 at 2.

Edlebeck did not return the form to Trondent or provide a doctor's note. On July 7, Armstrong tried to call Edlebeck at his home but was unable to reach him. On July 17, Armstrong sent Edlebeck an e-mail again informing him that he needed to send her a doctor's note. On July 22, Edlebeck called Armstrong asking her to e-mail him the short-term disability form again. On July 23, Armstrong did so and again asked Edlebeck to provide her with a doctor's note. On July 30, Edlebeck called Armstrong to request yet another short-term disability form because he had given the form to the wrong doctor. Armstrong e-mailed another copy of the form to Edlebeck the same day.

On August 6, 2008, having still not received any documentation from Edlebeck explaining his absence from work, Trondent terminated Edlebeck's employment. David Wood, Trondent's president, sent a letter to Edlebeck explaining that [a]s outlined in the Employee Manual, you are required to contact your manager on each day of your absence and provide documentation that your absence was medically necessary. Because you have failed to provide us with the required follow up, we have been left with no other alternative than to consider that you have abandoned your employment at Trondent.

Def.'s Mem., Ex. 18. On August 8, 2008, after he received the termination letter from Wood, Edlebeck sent a doctor's note to Wood and Armstrong via e-mail. Trondent did not rescind Edlebeck's termination.

Edlebeck filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on September 25, 2008. He alleged that Trondent discriminated against him based on his gender. On May 28, 2009, Edlebeck amended the charge to allege disability discrimination as well as gender discrimination. He did not assert a retaliation claim. On August 31, 2009, the EEOCdismissed the charge andissued a notice of right to sue. Edlebeck filed this lawsuit on December 1, 2009.

Discussion

On 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. 2009). Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In other words, a court may grant summary judgment "where the record taken as a whole could ...


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