The opinion of the court was delivered by: Spatt, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
The plaintiff, Michael Bonitch ("Bonitch" or the "plaintiff"),
initiated this action against his former employer, The Original
Honey Baked Ham Company of the East, Inc. ("HBH" or the
"defendant"), on July 14, 1997 by filing a complaint alleging
employment discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities
Act ("ADA") and the New York Executive Law § 290 et seq. (the
"Executive Law"). At issue is the defendant's motion for summary
judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure seeking dismissal of the plaintiff's complaint.
Except where otherwise indicated, the following facts are not
in dispute. The plaintiff was hired at HBH on April 7, 1992 as an
assistant manager of the defendant's Commack, New York store. In
April 1993, he was promoted to manager of that store. In that
position, he was required to hire and train new employees, handle
any customer service issues that arose, fill orders for needed
supplies and oversee and delegate duties to the other staff
employees. In March 1997, the plaintiff was transferred to HBH's
Levittown, New York store where he worked until he was discharged
on April 7, 1997.
Over the course of his employment, the plaintiff generally
received good evaluations, although on certain occasions he was
given constructive criticism on ways to better conform with the
policies of HBH. For example, the plaintiff received an
evaluation on January 20, 1993, wherein he was referred to as a
"responsible individual" who should soon be able to manage his
own store. Similarly, in June 1993, Bonitch was evaluated and
received a positive evaluation for his performance. In April
1994, however, Bonitch's district manager, Steven Gaiser,
cautioned him that he needed to make improvements in his job
performance including his image, leadership, and appearance.
In September 1995, the plaintiff began to suffer from a thyroid
condition. In January 1997, Bonitch was diagnosed with Graves'
disease, which is an endocrine disorder that affects the thyroid
gland. The common signs of Graves' disease are "(1)goiter; (2)
tachycardia; (3) widened pulse pressure; (4) warm, fine, moist
skin; (5) tremor; (6) eye signs . . .; and (7) atrial
fibrillation." Harris v. H & W Contracting Co., 102 F.3d 516,
522 (11th Cir. 1996) (quoting The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and
Therapy [Robert Berkow et al. eds., 15th ed. 1997]). If left
untreated or if improperly treated, Graves' disease can cause, in
the extreme, "cardiovascular collapse and shock." Id. Bonitch
was subsequently diagnosed with ocular myasthenia, a condition
which caused him to experience double vision and a lack of
control of his eye muscles. As a result, his left eye had a
tendency to squint or close, and his right eye would look up and
out. In fact, the plaintiff contends that his condition was
visible and known to all of the other employees including his
On April 8, 1997, Bonitch was discharged without warning. He
met with Rick Collard, HBH's operations manager, who informed
Bonitch that he was being terminated because the corporation was
unhappy with the way that he was managing the store. Collard made
reference to several incidents that had been reported on the
plaintiff's managerial evaluations, such as an indifferent
attitude toward store security and improper placement of the
"side dish sampling stations."
Summary judgment is appropriate only where there are no genuine
disputes concerning any material facts, and where the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See In re
Blackwood Assocs., L.P., 153 F.3d 61, 67 (2d Cir. 1998) (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56[c]; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 ; Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202
). In deciding a summary judgment motion, the district
court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the opposing party.
See Quinn v. Green Tree Credit Corp., 159 F.3d 759, 764 (2d
Cir. 1998); Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. v. Carol Pub. Group,
Inc., 150 F.3d 132, 137 (2d Cir. 1998) (citing Garza v. Marine
Transp. Lines, Inc., 861 F.2d 23, 26 [2d Cir. 1988]). If there
is evidence in the record as to any material fact from which an
inference can be drawn in favor of the non-movant, summary
judgment is unavailable. See Holt v. KMI-Continental, Inc.,
95 F.3d 123, 128 (2d Cir. 1996), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 117
S.Ct. 1819, 137 L.Ed.2d 1027 (1997); Rattner v. Netburn,
930 F.2d 204, 209 (2d Cir. 1991). The trial court's task is
"carefully limited to discerning whether there are any genuine
issues of material fact to be tried, not to deciding them. Its
duty, in short, is confined at this point to issue-finding; it
does not extend to issue-resolution." B.F. Goodrich v.
Betkoski, 99 F.3d 505, 522 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Gallo v.
Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd., Partnership, 22 F.3d 1219,
1224 [2d Cir. 1994]), cert. denied sub nom., Zollo Drum Co.,
Inc. v. B.F. Goodrich Co., ___ U.S. ___, 118 S.Ct. 2318, 141
L.Ed.2d 694 (1998).
It is within this framework that the Court addresses the
grounds for HBH's motion for summary judgment.
B. The Americans With Disabilities Act
The ADA prohibits an employer from discriminating against an
employee "because of the disability of such individual in regard
to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or
discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and
other terms, ...