“Despite the most diligent care, Nawrot cannot completely control his blood sugar level. He suffers from unpredictable hypoglycemic episodes, of such extreme consequence that death is a very real and significant risk. On the occasions he suffers from such an episode, his ability to think coherently is significantly impaired, as well as his ability to function. He has lost consciousness and fallen several times. In addition, his ability to express coherent thoughts is impaired, causing him to make nonsensical statements. He suffered three diabetic episodes at work in the two years before his termination. And aside from full- blown diabetic episodes, Nawrot has had ‘close calls,’ where he felt the onset of an episode but was able to avert a serious, debilitating attack.
“Moreover, Nawrot’s diabetes has progressively worsened. His difficulties became so overwhelming that in February 1997, he took medical leave to care for his physical health and attend to his diabetes management. By April 1997, his doctor described his diabetes as ‘brittle’ and therefore ‘very likely that he [will develop] hypoglycemic attacks.’ Physically, Nawrot has already suffered early stages of kidney damage and nerve damage in his feet as a consequence of his diabetes. His nerve damage is so extensive that it has affected his ability to sense feeling in his feet. Furthermore, Nawrot is on a restrictive diet, and depression and mood changes accompany his swings in blood sugar level… [W]e are convinced that Nawrot has sufficiently demonstrated that his diabetes substantially limits his ability to think and care for himself, which are both major life activities.”
“Nawrot has not demonstrated pretext in Bestfoods’ proffered legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for his termination. Bestfoods states that it terminated Nawrot because he harassed his co-worker, Ermalowicz, after having been specifically warned against contact with her, and after a formal reprimand and final written warning. In addition, Nawrot provided assistance to Ermalowicz in her arbitration against Bestfoods, disregarding his position as a manager in (and thus loyalty to) the company. Nawrot responds that the handshake incident, for which the final warning issued, was a product of his disability and that he could not be punished for his disability. But he forgets all of his prior misconduct-his remarks about Jehovah’s Witnesses, criticism of his supervisor in front of employees, arguments that escalated into shouting, statements about Ermalowicz in front of employees, and confrontation with a co-worker after those statements. Plus, he was actually terminated for harassing and stalking Ermalowicz and aiding her in the arbitration against Bestfoods.”
Affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Coar, J., Williams, J.