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Joyce R. Edwards v. John E. Potter

February 29, 2012

JOYCE R. EDWARDS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN E. POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL, UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE. DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blanche M. ManningUnited States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Joyce R. Edwards filed suit against Postmaster General John E. Potter alleging that the Post Office failed to provide reasonable accommodations in violation of § 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 791, et. seq. The Postal Service moves for summary judgment, arguing that Ms. Edwards' claim is untimely and, alternatively, non-meritorious. For the reasons stated below, the Postal Service's motion is granted.

I. Background

A. Local Rule 56.1

In opposing a motion for summary judgment, Edwards must comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) and Local Rule 56.1. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) requires a party opposing a motion for summary judgment to file:

(A) a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon, and

(B) a statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.

L.R. 56.1(b).

The district court may require strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1. See, e.g., Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Serv., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004); see also United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991) ("Judges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs"). Accordingly, the court has only considered facts that are supported by the record. The court notes that this includes facts in Ms. Edwards' affidavit even though they are self-serving. See Paz v. Wauconda Healthcare & Rehabilitation Centre, LLC, 464 F.3d 659, 664-65 (7th Cir. 2006) (evidence presented in a "self-serving" affidavit can defeat a motion for summary judgment if it meets the usual requirements for evidence at the summary judgment stage). In addition, objections to statements of fact on relevance grounds are inappropriate, so the court will consider facts it deems relevant to the extent they are supported by the record. See Keefe v. Mega Enterprises, Inc., No. 02 CV 5156, 2005 WL 693795, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 23, 2005).

B. Facts

Joyce Edwards began employment with the Postal Service on February 17, 1996. When she began working at the Postal Service, Ms. Edwards was a clerk but in June of 2000 was promoted to the position of Supervisor of Distribution Operations at the Irving Park Road Processing and Distribution Center facility.

It is undisputed that while Ms. Edwards was employed by the Postal Service, she took at least one EEO course. Ms. Edwards submitted a declaration stating that she could not recall the date on which she attended the EEO course. The agency decision addressing Ms. Edwards' claim, however, states that postal records show that she participated in training course #18201-25 ("EEO Rights and Remedies) on June 5, 2006, and September 7, 2006, which covers "EEO complaint procedures and remedies available to the complainant if discrimination is found," including the right to a reasonable accommodation. Dkt. 62-1, Page ID#346. The Postal Service did not produce any documentation in this case regarding any EEO classes allegedly taken by Ms. Edwards.

Ms. Edwards saw EEO posters (specifically, the Postal Services' EEO Poster #72) displayed at the Irving Park facility while she was employed there. The posters stated that an employee must bring an EEO claim within 45 days of the date she becomes aware of an allegedly discriminatory act. Additionally, Ms. Edwards knew that some employees had been transferred to less physically demanding jobs when they were physically unable to perform their duties, including supervisors who were transferred to the Leave Control Office.

In 2001 or 2002, Ms. Edwards was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. This disorder affected her nerves and caused her pain, weakness, swelling, stiffness, cramps and numbness in her legs and feet. After her condition worsened in 2006 and 2007, Ms. Edwards requested jobs that did not require standing or walking for any prolonged periods of time. In addition, she asked her supervisor, JoAnn Davis, to be transferred to the Leave Control Office, but Ms. Davis told her there was no work there for her to do. Ms. Edwards also wrote letters to the Plant Manager and the Plant Supporting Manager asking if she could work in Plant Support, to no ...


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