United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Honorable Edmond E. Chang United States District Judge
Aliferis and Brian Gaughan filed this lawsuit against their
former employers, Generations Health Care Network at Oakton
Pavillion, LLC, and Generations Health Care Network at Oakton
Arms, LLC, alleging discrimination on the basis of disability
in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42
U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the Illinois Human
Rights Act (IHRA), 775 ILCS 5/1-101 et
seq. R. 39, Second Am. Compl. Aliferis alleges
that the Defendants fired her because she had cancer,
id. ¶¶ 20-25, and Gaughan alleges that he
was fired because of his association with Aliferis,
id. ¶¶ 26-31. The Defendants now move for
summary judgment on Gaughan's claims of association
discrimination. R. 46, Mot. Summ. J.; R. 47, Defs.' Summ.
J. Br. For the reasons discussed below, the motion is in
large part denied.
purposes of this motion, the following facts are viewed in
the light most favorable to Gaughan (because he is the
non-movant), and all reasonable inferences are drawn in his
favor. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In July 2012, Gaughan
began working as a receptionist for Oakton Pavillion,
Inc.'s senior living facility in Des Plaines, Illinois.
R. 50, DSOF ¶¶ 4, 5, 7. His partner, Judy Aliferis,
worked for Oakton Pavillion's skilled nursing facility
since at least January 2010. Id. ¶ 4; R. 56,
PSOF ¶ 1. The two facilities are located in nearby
buildings. DSOF ¶ 4.
first day of work at Oakton Pavillion, Gaughan received an
Employee Handbook detailing his employer's discipline and
attendance policies. DSOF ¶¶ 9-10; R. 50-5,
Defs.' Exh. 5, Acknowledgment of Receipt of Employee
Handbook; R. 50-6, Defs.' Exh. 6, Oakton Place Employee
Handbook. The Handbook stated that employees who
“[l]e[ft] the premises without authorization during
working hours” would be immediately fired. Defs.'
Exh. 6 at DEF000044-45, Oakton Place Employee Handbook at
March 2014, Aliferis was diagnosed with breast cancer. DSOF
¶ 20. In light of this, Aliferis often had doctor's
appointments during the week, and Gaughan routinely drove her
to them. Id. ¶¶ 21-22. Oakton Pavillion
gave Aliferis complete flexibility with her schedule so that
she could make her doctor's appointments. PSOF ¶ 6.
Even with this flexibility, however, Aliferis submitted a
Request for Family Medical Leave on August 18, 2014 due to
her diagnosis. Id.
time off for Aliferis's appointments, Gaughan would fill
out a “Requesting a Change in Schedule” form and
place the form in the internal mail delivery system. DSOF
¶¶ 16-17; PSOF ¶ 8. After the form was filled
out and internally mailed, either Maureen Krahl,
Gaughan's supervisor, DSOF ¶ 13, or Jay Lewkowitz,
the administrator at Oakton Pavillion, id. ¶ 5,
would approve the request, sign the form, and return a copy
to Gaughan, id. ¶ 17; PSOF ¶ 11. The
Defendants acknowledge that it was appropriate for Gaughan to
submit his requests for time off to Krahl. See R.
62, Defs.' Resp. PSOF ¶ 12. Gaughan would keep the
returned forms in his bag in case any payroll issues came up.
PSOF ¶ 14. According to Gaughan, he always followed this
procedure when requesting time off. DSOF ¶ 18. It is
unclear whether Oakton Pavillion required supervisors to
maintain copies of approved “Requesting a Change in
Schedule” forms in employees' personnel files.
According to Krahl, there was no such requirement. R. 56-4,
Pl.'s Exh. 4, Krahl Dep. 59:6-60:5; see also
PSOF ¶ 13. But Ron Tan, Oakton Pavillion's payroll
manager, had allegedly told the facilities administrator
(Bart Barrish) that a copy was supposed to go into the
employee's personnel file. R. 50-3, Defs.' Exh. 3,
Barrish Dep. 165:17-168:8; Defs.' Resp. PSOF ¶ 13.
September 1, 2014, the Defendants bought Oakton
Pavillion's two facilities. DSOF ¶ 6. At that time,
Bart Barrish took over as the facilities' administrator.
PSOF ¶ 5. Barrish knew that Aliferis had cancer before
he took over and had even decided to fire Aliferis as early
as July 2014. Id. ¶¶ 2, 5. (Aliferis was
not actually fired until September 11, 2014. DSOF ¶ 29.)
He also discovered during this time that Aliferis and Gaughan
were in a relationship. PSOF ¶ 17; Defs.' Resp. PSOF
¶ 18; Barrish Dep. 157:2-8.
also decided to fire Krahl when the Defendants acquired
Oakton Pavillion. DSOF ¶ 14. Her last day was September
9. Id. Although both sides admit that Barrish became
Gaughan's supervisor as of September 1, Gaughan maintains
that Krahl was also his supervisor up until her last
day of work. Compare DSOF ¶ 15, with
Pl.'s Resp. DSOF ¶ 15.
had a doctor's appointment scheduled for September 11,
2014. DSOF ¶ 23. Gaughan had planned to take Aliferis to
this appointment and accordingly submitted a
“Requesting a Change in Schedule” form.
Id. ¶ 24. Neither he nor Krahl remember exactly
when Gaughan submitted the form, but both sides agree that he
did so before September 11. Id. ¶¶ 24, 25;
PSOF ¶ 9. Krahl thereafter returned a signed copy of the
form to Gaughan. PSOF ¶¶ 9-10; R. 50-9, Defs.'
Exh. 9, September 11, 2014 Requesting a Change in Schedule
Form. The form never ended up in Gaughan's personnel
file. DSOF ¶ 26.
Aliferis and Gaughan left for the doctor's on September
11, Barrish fired Aliferis. DSOF ¶ 29. (Shortly
thereafter, Barrish allegedly admitted at a staff meeting
that Aliferis was fired because of her health. PSOF ¶
27; see also Krahl Dep. 192:5-193:7; R. 56-14,
Pl.'s Exh. 14, Chapman Aff. ¶¶ 6-7; R. 56-15,
Pl.'s Exh. 15, Smith Dep. 47:15-22, 48:5-23.) The parties
dispute whether Barrish was aware that Aliferis had a
doctor's appointment that day. Compare DSOF
¶ 29; Defs.' Resp. PSOF ¶ 18, with
Pl.'s Resp. DSOF ¶ 29. It is undisputed, however,
that Barrish saw Aliferis and Gaughan leave together. PSOF
¶ 18; Barrish Dep. 157:2-8 (“Q: How did you become
aware [that Gaughan was Aliferis's boyfriend] on
September 11th? / A: When he left with her, someone told me
that they were together.”). Aside from submitting the
“Requesting a Change in Schedule” form and
receiving Krahl's permission to leave, Gaughan did not
tell anyone that he was taking Aliferis to the doctor. DSOF
¶ 31; Pl.'s Resp. DSOF ¶ 31.
that day, Barrish discovered that there was no one manning
Gaughan's post at the senior living facility's
reception desk. DSOF ¶ 32. Barrish did not ask anyone
where Gaughan was or try to contact Gaughan for an
explanation as to why he was not at work. PSOF ¶ 19. He
did, however, review Gaughan's personnel file to see if
there was a “Requesting a Change in Schedule”
form accounting for his absence that day. DSOF ¶ 33.
After finding no copy of the form in Gaughan's file,
Barrish decided to fire Gaughan. Id. ¶¶
worked his entire shift at the reception desk the next day
before Barrish called him in for a meeting. DSOF ¶¶
35-36. At the meeting, Barrish told Gaughan that leaving his
post at the reception desk violated the Employee Handbook.
Id. ¶ 37. Gaughan explained that he had left
work early the day before in order to take Aliferis to her
doctor's appointment. PSOF ¶ 21. He also told
Barrish that Krahl had pre-approved his absence; that is, she
had signed off on the request for time off form that he had
previously submitted to her. Id. ¶ 22.
parties dispute what happened next. Gaughan claims that he
told Barrish that the form was in his bag just next door at
the senior living facility, but Barrish refused to let him go
get the form. PSOF ¶¶ 23-24; Pl.'s Resp. DSOF
¶ 40; R. 50-2, Defs.' Exh. 2, Gaughan Dep. 54:3-14,
66:2-67:9. The Defendants, by contrast, maintain that Barrish
refused to let Gaughan produce the form only after Gaughan
told him that the form was at home, not next door. DSOF
¶ 40; Defs.' Resp. DSOF ¶¶ 23-24; Barrish
Dep. 177:6-180:20. Barrish then fired Gaughan. DSOF ¶
39. Before this incident, Gaughan never had any disciplinary
or attendance issues. Id. ¶ 12. Later that
week, on September 14, Krahl sent an ...