Shott v. Katz, No. 15-3528 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In 1994, Shott, a tenured associate professor of biostatistics at Rush University, sued, claiming discrimination by refusing to make reasonable accommodations for her religion (Orthodox Judaism) and disability (rheumatoid arthritis). A jury rejected Shott’s claim of religious discrimination but awarded her $60,000 for disability discrimination. She sued Rush again in 2011, alleging that Rush refused to increase her salary or promote her in retaliation for her earlier lawsuit. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Rush. While that lawsuit was pending, Shott sued Katz (42 U.S.C. 1981), whom she had occasionally helped with statistical analysis, alleging that, in retaliation for her litigation Katz impeded her career advancement by rebuffing her invitations to collaborate. Katz was also Shott’s treating rheumatologist; she claimed he failed to timely respond to requests for prescription refills, requiring her to have an examination every six months. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal, noting that Shott had not alleged that Katz’s medical care affected Shott's employment. Nor did the examination requirement amount to a material adverse action. “If she was not willing to comply with that obviously reasonable condition, she should have tried to find a new doctor, not filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.” Shott failed to allege a sufficient “nexus” between Katz’s refusal to collaborate and her career advancement; Katz’s decisions about what research to pursue, and with whom, are protected by the First Amendment.