Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Needham v. McDonald

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 8, 2017

GINA NEEDHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT A. MCDONALD, SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SHARON JOHNSON COLEMAN United States District Court Judge

         The plaintiff, Gina Needham, brings this action against the defendant, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald (hereinafter “the VA”), alleging that the VA failed to accommodate her disability and discriminated against her based on her disability in violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The VA now moves for summary judgment on Needham's claims. For the reasons set forth herein, the VA's motion for summary judgment [70] is denied.

         Background

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. Needham worked as a nurse in the Lovell Federal Health Care Center's emergency department from April 27, 2008, until March 22, 2013. Needham's direct supervisor was emergency room nurse manager James Miller. Miller hired Needham because he had worked with her in the past and had been impressed by her work ethic, decision making, and nursing skills.

         As an employee at the Lovell Federal Health Care Center, Needham was subject to a code of conduct. As is relevant here, that code of conduct provides that:

9. Employees shall protect and conserve Federal property and shall not use it for other than authorized activities.
. . .
12. Employees shall satisfy in good faith their obligations as citizens, including all financial obligations, especially those such as Federal, State, or local taxes-that are imposed by law.
. . .
14. Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in the Standards of ethical conduct. Whether particular circumstances create an appearance that the law or these standards have been violated shall be determined from the perspective of a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts.

         In 2010, Needham took approximately a month of leave from the VA in order to participate in a treatment program for dependency on pain medication. Needham did not tell the VA that she had sought treatment for prescription drug dependence, and after her leave she returned to work without restrictions and without requesting an accommodation. At the time of her leave, Miller was under the impression that Needham suffered from emotional problems, but did not receive any documentation concerning a formal diagnosis of her condition.

         In 2011, Needham's husband lost his job, her daughter stopped attending school, and Needham began to worry about her family's finances. Needham began to gamble while on duty, seemingly by playing scratch-off games. During the course of her gambling, Needham lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Needham informed Miller that she had a gambling problem, and he suggested that she take time off from work to seek treatment. In June 2012, Needham requested and received family medical leave and sick leave to seek treatment for depression. Before she could enter a treatment program, however, Needham learned that her mother was terminally ill. Needham therefore spent the remainder of her leave caring for her mother instead of participating in treatment for her gambling addiction. Dr. Robert Baker, Needham's psychiatrist, wrote the VA a letter stating that Needham could return to work on August 2, 2012. Needham did not request any accommodations upon her return to work.

         On October 6, 2012, Needham gambled during her shift and overdrew her checking account. She became upset and expressed suicidal thoughts to a coworker. Based on her statements to the coworker, the VA committed Needham to Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Needham was discharged two days later. On October 9, 2012, Needham told Miller that she wished to return to work. Miller requested that Needham provide the VA with a return-to-work note from the psychiatric ward.

         Needham again returned to her suicidal thoughts, and on October 11, 2012, Needham unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on “massive” amounts of cocaine.[1] On October 12, 2012, Needham again attempted to commit suicide, this time by overdosing on Xanax. After she had started taking the Xanax, however, she received a call from her husband stating that he needed her debit card to go to the doctor. Needham accordingly drove to meet him in a grocery store parking lot. A witness who observed Needham's erratic driving called the police. The police followed Needham's car into the parking lot and, after assessing Needham's behavior, placed her under arrest for driving while intoxicated. A subsequent search led to the discovery of drug paraphernalia and crack cocaine base. Needham was issued a citation for driving ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.