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HR manager awarded $187,000 for disability discrimination

Maryland workers might want to know that a Michigan paper and packaging manufacturer has agreed to pay $187,500 to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company wrongly fired its former human resources manager while he was on short-term disability leave. The suit was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the manager.

According to the complaint, the manager began working in the human resources department of RockTenn Company's Battle Creek plant in October 2010. In January 2011, he underwent heart surgery and was approved for disability leave until mid-April 2011. After receiving medical clearance to begin working half days, he immediately notified RockTenn that his return date would be March 21. However, the company terminated his employment on March 10.

The EEOC attempted to reach a negotiated settlement with RockTenn but eventually filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The suit accused RockTenn of failing to reasonably accommodate the disability of the HR manager and terminating him during a pre-approved disability leave, which are violations of federal law. In addition to paying the manager monetary relief, the company is prohibited from future acts of disability discrimination and must retrain its managers on employee rights under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Maryland workers who believe they have experienced disability discrimination, including unfair treatment and wrongful termination, may benefit by consulting with a lawyer in order to get a better understanding of the remedies that may be available. In most cases, if a decision is made to proceed, the initial step would be to file a claim with the EEOC.

Source: HR Morning, "Former HR manager gets $188k to settle disability discrimination case," Tim Gould, April 15, 2016

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