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March 17, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robertson, District Judge.


Robert Wilson alleges that he was fired from his job as Executive Assistant to Tom Sever, General Secretary-Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamster's, Chauffeurs and Warehousemen ("Teamsters"), because Sever thought Wilson was an alcoholic. Wilson sued Sever and the Teamsters for employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. He also asserts state law claims for tortious interference with a prospective contractual relationship and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants have moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motion will be granted as to the ADA claim, and the state law claims will be dismissed.


In 1992, after his election to a five-year term as General Secretary-Treasurer ("GST") of the Teamsters, Sever hired Wilson to be his Executive Assistant. Wilson was already a Teamsters employee and understood that as Sever's Executive Assistant he would be an at-will employee and that his employment terms would be completely determined by defendant: under the Teamsters' International Constitution, Sever could hire and fire whomever he pleased. Wilson's responsibilities, like the terms of his employment, were never reduced to writing. They included drafting official reports for Sever, acting as liaison between Sever's office and the office of the Teamsters' General President, and driving Sever to and from Sever's Pittsburgh home on weekends. Wilson also routinely drove or accompanied Sever on out of town business trips, upon Sever's request. Wilson's and Sever's employment relationship appears to have been informal in many respects, for, in addition to routinely dining and drinking alcohol together after working hours, the two shared an apartment during the work week.

Sever was aware of Wilson's drinking problem long before he hired him. He knew that there had been several occasions on which Wilson drank to excess, and he knew that sometimes Wilson got into trouble as a result. Mot.Summ.J., Sever Decl. at 1 ¶ 4. In 1985, after Wilson was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Pennsylvania, Sever helped him find a lawyer and testified on Wilson's behalf. In 1992 or 1993, while driving a Teamsters vehicle in Washington, D.C., Wilson was arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol. The Teamsters car was impounded and Wilson was required, upon conviction, to attend an alcohol treatment program at ETHOS in Falls Church, Virginia. In November 1994, Wilson was once again charged with drunk driving in Washington, D.C., this time after crashing a Teamsters vehicle. After his conviction on this occasion, Wilson began attending Living Free, an outpatient addiction treatment center in Virginia. Wilson's treatment at Living Free began in January 1995 and required that he remain abstinent, attend meetings twice a week, and submit urine samples weekly. Sever maintains that he learned of Wilson's involvement in this treatment program only after he fired him, Reply, Sever Depos. at 47.

On June 14, 1995, Wilson suffered a relapse. He and Sever got into an argument after drinking together. Wilson left with Sever's car and continued to drink to the point of intoxication. The Teamsters car and Wilson were reported missing. The next day, the union's Director of Security found Wilson in Crystal City, drinking in a bar.

Notwithstanding these and other alcohol-related incidents, Sever neither disciplined Wilson, Mot. Summ. J., Statement of Material Facts at 8 ¶ 66, nor documented any of Wilson's misconduct, until September 6, 1995, when Sever prepared a memorandum for that purpose. Sever Decl., Ex. A. The events leading up to that memorandum are pivotal to Wilson's claim and defendants' motion.

On August 19, 1995, Wilson accompanied Sever to an official Teamsters seminar in Chicago. They were scheduled to return on August 20, 1995. On the morning of August 20, Sever called Wilson's room to arrange to leave for the airport. There was no answer. Sever knocked on Wilson's door, and still there was no response. Sever then gained entrance with the assistance of hotel staff and found Wilson asleep. Sever woke Wilson and demanded that he leave with him to catch the flight to Pittsburgh. Wilson refused, and Sever fired him on the spot Sever did not suspect or have reason to know that Wilson was intoxicated, and Wilson denies that he had been drinking alcohol the night before or that morning.

After he was fired, Wilson did not speak with Sever for a week. On August 28, 1995, Sever offered to rehire Wilson if he would undergo alcohol treatment and testing. Instead of accepting that offer, Wilson told Sever that he was trying to get a job in the General President's office. Sever grew angry and told Wilson that he had one week to decide. The next day, Sever called Wilson and told him that he had decided not to rehire him When Wilson again indicated his intention to work for the General President, Sever told Wilson, "Don't think you're going to go around me." Def's Statement of Material Facts at 12 ¶ 109.

On September 6, 1995, Sever asked Wilson once again to consider working for him. Wilson neither accepted nor asked Sever to rehire him. That same day, Sever prepared a confidential memorandum detailing numerous verbal warnings about insubordination that he had given Wilson during the past three years. Sever Decl., Ex. A at 1. Although most of the misconduct mentioned in the memorandum was related to Wilson's drinking, the memorandum does not expressly mention Wilson's alcoholism or suggest that any of the listed misconduct was alcohol-related.

On September 18, 1995, Sever informed Wilson that he had hired a replacement and directed Wilson to remove his possessions from the apartment they had shared in Virginia. Sever and Wilson have not spoken since. In response to suggestions by those trying to help Wilson obtain a job with the General President, Wilson participated in an alcohol treatment program at Gateway Greenway, in Pittsburgh, from September 20, 1995 until October 26, 1997.

On October 31, 1995, Sever sent Wilson a formal termination letter that made Wilson's termination retroactive to August 28, 1995. Wilson was subsequently offered another job with the Teamsters but refused it because it would not include backpay. He filed this action on April 22, 1997.


To establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the ADA, a plaintiff must prove: (1) that he had, or was regarded as having, a disability; (2) that he was otherwise qualified for the position from which he was fired; and (3) that an adverse employment action was taken against him because of his disability. See, e.g., Witter v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 138 F.3d 1366, 1369 (11th Cir. 1998); Adamczyk v. Chief, ...

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