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Juliana Hensler v. City of O'fallon

October 25, 2012

JULIANA HENSLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF O'FALLON, ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Introduction and Procedural History

On April 8, 2009, plaintiff Juliana Hensler filed a two-count complaint against defendant City of O'Fallon, Illinois, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (Doc. 2). Generally, plaintiff alleged defendant discriminated and retaliated against her based on her fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome during her employment as a part-time dispatcher. The case proceeded to bench trial in this Court on September 4, 2012. At the close of trial on September 5, 2012, the Court orally ruled in favor of defendant. Thus, the Court directed defendant to provide the Court with proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. Having heard the evidence in the case, reviewed defendant's proposed findings and conclusions, and in accordance with FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 52, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

II. Findings of Fact

1. City of O'Fallon, Illinois, is a local governmental entity.

2. Plaintiff, Juliana Hensler, was employed by O'Fallon as a dispatcher from 2002 until October 2007.

3. On March 30, 2007, while employed at O'Fallon, Hensler filed a charge of discrimination under the ADA with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

4. On April 25, 2007, while employed at O'Fallon, Hensler filed a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR).

5. On January 15, 2008, after her employment with O'Fallon ended, Hensler filed a charge of retaliation with the IDHR.

6. On January 7, 2009, Hensler's claims with the EEOC and IDHR were dismissed and she was issued a right to sue letter.

7. Hensler filed this action on April 8, 2009 (Doc. 2).

8. Hensler stated in her complaint that this Court's jurisdiction is based upon 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

9. Venue in this Court is based upon 28 U.S.C. § 1391 as O'Fallon is located in this state and district, and all acts complained of took place in this state and district.

10. The first count of her complaint, which alleged disability discrimination on the basis of Hensler's alleged fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, was dismissed on summary judgment. (Doc. 41).

11. The second count of the complaint alleged retaliation under the ADA. This count survived O'Fallon's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 41).

12. Hensler's complaint sought an array of damages including compensatory and punitive damages. On January 31, 2012, the Court denied Hensler's motion to reconsider grant of summary judgment and granted O'Fallon's motion to strike plaintiff's jury demand and to exclude compensatory and punitive damages (Doc. 58).

13. Hensler claims to have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

14. Prior to her employment at O'Fallon, Hensler worked with Chief Betten at Fairview Heights where Hensler was a dispatcher and Betten was a patrol sergeant.

15. While at Fairview Heights, Betten asked Hensler to check on an unknown car at a business and based on her failure to provide the requested information, the Fairview Heights police made contact with an employee of the business at gunpoint. Based on her handling of that call, Betten formed an opinion that Hensler was difficult to work with.

16. During her employment at O'Fallon, Betten spoke with Hensler about her inflexibility with scheduling.

17. In 2005, the Public Safety department restructured the work hours of dispatchers so that a part-time dispatcher would typically work eight hours alongside two full-time dispatchers who each worked twelve hours. Management's intent was that if a full-time dispatcher called in sick, then the part-time dispatcher would only have to work an additional 4 hours to cover for the full-time employee's absence.

18. At the time this change was implemented in 2005, Hensler submitted a note from her doctor that she would be able to work an occasional twelve hour shift. The Court finds that this constitutes a change in Hensler's representation of her alleged disability to her own convenience, as it relates to how much she wanted to work. This was the first instance that will repeat itself later as the evidence will reveal.

19. O'Fallon valued part-time dispatchers who had the flexibility to fill in during extra shifts and work when full-time employees were on vacation or sick.

20. On September 23, 2006, Hensler's supervisor was Terry McFarland. On that day, a dispatcher called in sick. Hensler was working that evening but was scheduled to get off before ...


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