241 F.3d 919 (7th Cir. 2001), 00-1656, Basith v Cook County

Docket Nº:00-1656
Citation:241 F.3d 919
Party Name:Abuzaffer Basith, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Cook County, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:March 06, 2001
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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241 F.3d 919 (7th Cir. 2001)

Abuzaffer Basith, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Cook County, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 00-1656

In the United States Court of Appeals, For the Seventh Circuit

March 6, 2001

Argued November 2, 2000

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 96 C 5596--Ann Claire Williams, Judge.

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Before Manion, Kanne, and Evans, Circuit Judges.

Manion, Circuit Judge.

Abuzaffer Basith sued Cook County, his employer, for discriminating against him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. sec. 12112(a), and for retaliation in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. sec. 2000e. The district court granted summary judgment for Cook County on both claims. Basith appeals. We affirm.

I.

On July 15, 1987, Abuzaffer Basith was hired for the position of Pharmacy Technician II in the Inpatient Division of the Pharmacy Department at Cook County Hospital. Basith was assigned to the clean air room, which required him to perform a variety of tasks, including preparation of intravenous solutions, and delivery and stocking of medications.

Unfortunately Basith's job was interrupted by several injuries and resulting physical limitations. On July 12, 1991, Basith injured his right leg in a car accident. After nearly ten months of taking medical leave, Dr. Robert Collins released Basith to return to work with several restrictions. For ten weeks Basith was not to stand for more than 10 minutes at a time, walk more than 50 yards at a time, or lift more than 10 pounds. He was also restricted from bending, stooping, crouching, twisting, climbing, squatting, or kneeling. Upon returning to work, Basith reported to Dr. Zachary Powell at Employee Health Services at Cook County Hospital, who completed a disposition form noting his restrictions. However, based on these restrictions, the Associate Director of the Pharmacy Department, LuAnn Dodini, refused to allow Basith to return to work. Thus he did not work from April to June 22, 1992. On June 22, 1992, Dr. Powell established new restrictions, to be effective through August 4, 1992. Among other things, these restrictions limited Basith from: lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling over 20 pounds; lifting fifteen pounds overhead; bending, stooping and climbing; and spending more than one-third of a day standing or walking. After Dodini determined that Basith could return to work with his new restrictions, he returned to his original position on June 22, 1992.

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About three weeks later, Basith wrote Dodini a letter requesting a shift change because his current shift required him to stand and move too much. At his request he was given a handicapped parking sticker which required a showing that he could only walk a maximum of 200 feet at one time. However, Dodini prohibited Basith from working as a Pharmacy Technician II on any shift because of the walking limitation. The hospital later concluded that Dodini's concern was "a bureaucratic issue more than a medical issue," and on August 8, 1992 he returned to work as a Pharmacy Technician II. Basith filed a successful grievance with Cook County for the salary he lost during the three-week period he was prohibited from working.

Then, on August 12, 1992, Basith reported a second injury when he fell from a chair at work. He required additional surgery, and took a one- year medical leave of absence. Basith was finally released to work on July 12, 1993, with restrictions in effect until August 4, 1993. The restrictions prohibited him from more than minimal walking and from lifting over 10 pounds. Because of these new restrictions, Dodini informed Dr. Powell that Basith could not work as a Pharmacy Technician II; thus he remained on medical leave of absence. Basith returned to Employee Health Services on August 4, 1993, with the same lifting and walking restrictions. But Dodini told Dr. Powell that Basith could not work in his old position with these restrictions. Thus he remained off work.

On December 14, 1993, Basith's personal physician issued permanent restrictions. Basith was restricted from walking, bending, or stooping more than minimally and from lifting over 10 pounds. On January 19, 1994, Cook County offered Basith a new Pharmacy Technician II position in the recently opened operating room pharmacy at Cook County Hospital. The Director of the Pharmacy Department, Dennis Hays, agreed to have storeroom personnel deliver stock to the elevator outside the operating room pharmacy in light of Basith's walking restrictions. Basith accepted the position on March 14, 1994, but he left a few days later, claiming that Cook County "wasn't accommodating him enough."

On May 20, 1994, Basith and his union representative met with Hays to discuss Basith's desire to return to work in the clean air room. Hays agreed to create a special assignment for Basith in the clean air room where he would be responsible for making intravenous "piggyback" solutions which did not require him to do delivery, stocking, or cleaning. Basith accepted the new position.

But Basith was still not satisfied. On February 28, 1995, Basith filed a grievance because he had not been offered an opportunity to cover overtime shifts in the clean air room. But, as Hays explained, the overtime shifts required employees to deliver and stock medications (which Basith could not do with his limitations), and no overtime was needed to make intravenous piggyback solutions. Therefore Basith was not offered overtime.

On January 19, 1996, Basith incurred a third injury, this time by striking his right knee on a cart at work. This resulted in another medical leave of absence. After several weeks Dr. Ira Kornblatt released Basith to return to his job without restrictions. On April 4, 1996, Employee Health Services approved Basith for return to work but with restrictions that he not crouch, squat, kneel, or crawl more than one-third of the day. The same day, Candace Richardson, Hays' successor as Director of the Pharmacy Department, informed Basith that she would reevaluate his assignment in light of the new restrictions. On April 25, 1996, she informed Basith that she would expand his assignment to include other shifts beyond his special assignment, beginning June 7, 1996.

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On June 7, 1996, Basith reported another knee injury, and he took his fourth medical leave of absence. Dr. Kornblatt determined that he could return to the normal job activities of a pharmacy technician without restrictions. Basith did not return to work, however. On July 16, 1996, one of Basith's attorneys requested that Cook County reasonably accommodate Basith by assigning him only profiling tasks, which involve data entry, for a month until he underwent surgery. Cook County responded that it could not do so because only registered pharmacists could perform profiling tasks, and Basith was not qualified.

On January 3, 1997, Richardson sent a letter to Basith stating that he had exhausted his sick and vacation time, and informing him that he should report to the Department of Human Resources regarding an appropriate medical leave of absence. Basith's attorneys and Cook County subsequently agreed that Basith should have an independent medical examination. The parties selected Dr. Morgenstern, who recommended that Basith perform a "mostly sitting" job. Cook County offered Basith a position in the acquisitions area of the Pharmacy Department, which he accepted. Basith returned to work on July 29, 1997, and is apparently still employed in this position.

As these injuries occurred during his employment, Basith filed periodic charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") which form the basis of this case. On July 7, 1992, Basith filed his first claim alleging that in April and May of 1992, Cook County discriminated against him based on his physical handicap and sex. At the time of filing Basith had recently returned from a ten-month leave of absence due to a leg injury from an automobile accident. The EEOC issued a right-to- sue letter on September 8, 1995. In the meantime, on August 2, 1995, Basith filed another charge claiming that from September 1994 through May 1995 Cook County discriminated against him based on race and disability in denying him overtime opportunities. The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter for this charge on January 31, 1996. On February 18, 1997, Basith filed a charge claiming that on June 7, 1996, the date of his fourth reported injury (knee), Cook County discriminated against him based on race, sex, national origin, and disability, and retaliated against him. It appears that the race, sex, and national origin charges have been dropped. The EEOC issued...

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