Beatty v. Olin Corp., 2012 WL 3854855 (7th Cir. 2012)

Facts: Beatty had worked for Olin Corp. since 2004. He was injured on September 28, 2007 and sent to Olin’s medical department. Three days later, he was referred to a physician by his foreman. Beatty’s physician gave him a medical leave note which was only good for one week. However, in the next two months, Beatty only showed up in Olin a couple of times, with only one retroactive medical approval issued by his own physician on October 25 covering his absence from September 27 to October 29 and another off-work note issued by his new physician on November 5. In the meantime, Beatty was informed several times by different people from Olin about his unexcused absence. In order to evaluate his medical situation, Olin sought an independent medical evaluation from an impartial physician who conducted the evaluation for Beatty on November 9 and provided the report to Olin on November 19. Without evidence showing  that Olin’s labor relation manager was  aware of Beatty’s medical situation, the manager terminated Beatty’s employment with Olin on the ground of failure to call in for three consecutive days.

Beatty won his worker’s compensation case against Olin, and then commenced a retaliation claim against Olin afterward under Illinois law.

Procedural history: Olin moved for summary judgment based on, among other things, the lack of evidence of a causal connection between Beatty’s discharge and his exercise of workers’ compensation rights. The district court granted the motion and entered judgment for Olin. Beatty appealed.

Issue: Did Beatty’s possible pursuit of a workers’ compensation claim prompt Olin to fire him?

Holding: No. There is no evidence showing Olin fired Beatty because Beatty would sue Olin for worker’s compensation. There is no causal connection between two claims.

Reasoning: In order to prevail a retaliation claim, the plaintiff must prove: (1) that he was an employee before the injury; (2) that he exercised a right granted by the Workers’ Compensation Act; and (3) that he was discharged and that the discharge was causally related to his filing a claim under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

In this case, the manager Moore terminated Beatty’s employment with Olin based on the report from a clerk. His decision was in accordance with Olin’s policy. There is no evidence  showing that the manager  knew Beatty was injured or that he had ever  spoken with anyone in Olin’s medical department.

Also, Beatty’s arguments for reversal are not persuasive. His first argument is that he was authorized not to call in on a daily basis. However, even if he were authorized, Beatty could not prove Moore’s decision was based upon a retaliatory motive. Likewise, Betty’s second argument at most could prove a failure of communication, rather than a retaliatory discharge. Furthermore, Beatty’s third argument, applying a reasonable person standard to prove Moore’s knowledge of Beatty’s injury, was not factually supported to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Moreover, the court was not moved by Beatty’s argument that Olin’s call-in policy has a link to his worker’s compensation right. Lastly, the two cases cited by Beatty are inapplicable to this case.

Judgment: Affirmed.

Brief By: Victor You

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