Carothers v. County of Cook, No. 15-1915 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Carothers, an African-American woman, was hired by Cook County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) in 2005 as an Administrative Assistant-Hearing Officer, inputting data and creating reports, and serving as a hearing officer for juvenile detainee grievances. In 2009, Carothers had a physical altercation with a detainee during a riot. Carothers injured her hands, went on a leave of absence, and obtained a worker’s compensation settlement. HR acknowledged that Carothers had been released to return with a restriction precluding her from interacting with the detainees, which her job required, and suggested that Carothers review available positions. Carothers replied that she could not find a position that accommodated her restriction. HR replied that she should apply for disability benefits. In March, 2010, Carothers returned to her job. She had to be taken from work in an ambulance following Physical Restraint Techniques training and Deescalation training. In 2011, HR submitted a “Disciplinary Recommendation” because Carothers refused to file for disability and could not obtain a release to return to full duty. A Hearing Officer recommended discharge due to more than 10 unauthorized absences, and failure to follow instructions. The JDC discharged Carothers, who sued, alleging that she had developed an anxiety disorder and that termination constituted discrimination on account of disability, race, and sex, and retaliation for her EEOC claim. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants.