Vol. 14, Iss. 11
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., A Wiley Company
All rights reserved
Judge decides disability
didn’t cause termination
Case name: Skotnik v. Moraine Valley Community
College, et al., No. 15-cv-11619 (N.D. Ill. 09/26/17).
Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Northern District
of Illinois granted summary judgment in favor of
Moraine Valley Community College.
What it means: To prevail in a disability-discrim-
ination suit, a terminated employee must prove her
disability was the reason why she was ﬁred.
Summary: Moraine Valley Community College was
aware that Renee Skotnik had a major depressive
disorder when it hired her as a part-time clerical
employee in 1985.
In October 2013, Skotnik allegedly asked several
co-workers whether they were scared of her. She was
also: (1) involved in a verbal and physical altercation
with a co-worker that resulted in a police response
and (2) reprimanded for leaving campus during her
shift without permission.
After she was terminated a few weeks later, Skot-
nik ﬁled a suit claiming violations of the Americans
with Disabilities Act.
The college ﬁled a motion for summary judgment.
Skotnik conceded that MVCC had ample grounds
to ﬁre her. However, she argued that there was an
illegal motive behind her otherwise justiﬁable termi-
nation. In support of her position, Skotnik presented
evidence that MVCC had an escalating system of
discipline, and contended that the college skipped
some disciplinary steps when it terminated her.
But the district judge said Skotnik had not identi-
ﬁed any evidence tending to show that MVCC had
uniformly applied its progressive discipline system to
other employees. She also ruled that even if the college
violated its progressive discipline policy, there was no
evidence suggesting an improper motive was involved.
Skotnik next argued that her termination was based
in part on a 2009 written warning that was issued
as a result of falsiﬁed testimony. But the judge said
Skotnik had failed to show that: (1) the 2009 warning
contributed directly to her termination and (2) MVCC
knew the 2009 warning was based on false testimony.
Finally, Skotnik asserted that there was bad faith
and a potential cover-up because she proved that
the college’s memoranda supporting her termina-
tion were drafted after the decision to ﬁre her had
already been made.
But the judge ruled that when and where the memo-
randa were prepared was irrelevant because the stated
reasons for Skotnik’s termination — disruptive and
unprofessional behavior, leaving work without permis-
sion, and unsatisfactory performance — had already
been set forth in the Notice of Proposed Disciplinary
Action that had previously been provided to her.
The judge granted summary judgment in favor
of MVCC. ■
Lawsuit court records are summarized
by Richard H. Willits, Esq.
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