The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Olin Corporations's (hereinafter "Olin") Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 16) and Memorandum (Doc. 17) in support thereof. Plaintiff Jared Beatty (hereinafter "Beatty") filed a Response (Doc. 20) thereto, to which Olin filed a Reply (Doc. 22).
For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the instant motion.
In analyzing a motion for summary judgment, the reviewing court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court, construing the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to Beatty, finds as follows:
Around July 6, 2004, Beatty began working for Olin as a caster. Approximately fourteen months later, Beatty injured himself at work. After a roughly two month absence and several months of light duty work for which he received workers' compensation benefits, Beatty would fully resume his duties at Olin.
On or about September 28, 2007, Beatty injured both his side and lower back while working as an adjustor at Olin. At the company's medical department's behest, Beatty met with his personal physician. The doctor issued an off-work note that lasted through October 5, and Beatty provided this note to Olin. Then, on October 15, Olin's medical department sent Beatty a letter telling him to report for an independent medical evaluation because the company had not received documentation allowing him to be off. Beatty never showed. Around one week later, David Kern (hereinafter "Kern"), Assistant Director of Labor Relations, sent Beatty a letter advising him to call the medical department and to report to work or face discipline. This time, Beatty responded by calling someone at Olin who may or may not have been Kern. It was also around this time that Olin ordered brief surveillance of Beatty.
Beatty saw his personal physician again on October 25, at which time the doctor provided Beatty with a note that placed him off-work from September 27 through October 28. The note also released Beatty for light duty on October 29. Beatty commenced light duty work on October 31, only to injure his shoulder a day later. Per Olin's instruction, Beatty met with his doctor yet again. The doctor provided him with another off-work note that lasted through November 19, which Beatty transmitted to Olin on November 5. Around this time, at Olin's request, Beatty was also examined by an independent medical doctor. Olin did not receive the report of this examiner until November 19.
It bears mentioning that, throughout much of the foregoing, Beatty called into work to remind Olin of his several off-work notes. But, on an unspecified date, an unidentified woman in Olin's medical department informed Beatty that he no longer needed to call in due to his doctor's notes; after this, Beatty no longer reported his absences to Olin. Doc. 20-22, p. 14 ("I think most of the time I was off[,] they had me not call in because they had the documentation and they knew what my doctor said.").
Meanwhile, on November 14, a metallic manufacturing clerk in Beatty's department e-mailed Bill Moore (hereinafter "Moore"), Manager of Labor Relations and Ethics Compliance at Olin and subordinate to Kern, regarding Beatty. The clerk and Moore corresponded via e-mail for roughly twelve minutes about "how [Beatty] should have been discharged a while back [for violation of general plant rules]" and how "[h]e ha[d] not been calling off for a couple of weeks." Doc. 17-1, p. 16. This was the first time Moore had heard anything about Beatty, his unreported absenteeism, or that he had suffered work-related injuries.
Moore then considered the collective bargaining agreement that governs Olin and its employees, which maintains that one who fails to call off work for three consecutive days will be subject to an administrative quit.*fn1 Without consulting Kern - who knew through his secretary that Beatty had a doctor's slip from November 5 to November 19- or Olin's medical department, Moore promptly decided to terminate Beatty's employment because he could not have been on approved leave without calling in. On November 16, Olin sent Beatty a letter that cited failure to report off work three consecutive working day absences - from November 7 through November 13 - as the basis of his termination.*fn2 Beatty does not remember whether he called in those days, but his deposition testimony suggests that he did not due to what the unidentified woman said. Doc. 17-2, p. 24 ("I think [Olin] told me not to call in[.]"). One of those days, November 9, was the date that the independent medical examiner evaluated Beatty.
In December 2007, Beatty filed a workers' compensation claim with the State of Illinois that was settled the following February. The parties' settlement contract lump sum petition and order, which Beatty and his counsel personally signed and declared to have read, stated that Beatty ...