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Human resources manager wins discrimination suit

Even human resources managers at companies in Texas and throughout the United States are not immune from facing discrimination in the workplace. An employee at RockTenn, a paper and packaging manufacturer, was awarded $187,500 in a settlement after he was fired while on short-term disability leave.

The manager started working at one of the company's plants in Michigan in October 2010. He had open-heart surgery the following January and was given short-term disability leave through the middle of April. However, his recovery proceeded better than expected, and with his doctor's clearance, he notified his employer that he would begin working half days on March 21. However, on March 10, the company fired him.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attempted to negotiate a settlement between the company and the employee but was unsuccessful. As a result, the EEOC filed a lawsuit on the employee's behalf. A representative for the EEOC said that short-term disability constituted a reasonable accommodation in this situation. Under the terms of the settlement, the company is also required to train managers on those reasonable accommodations and on disability. The company must also post a notice regarding employee rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act and one about the lawsuit.

Whether employers deliberately violate anti-discrimination laws or ADA policies or do so because supervisors have not been properly trained in interpreting the laws, an employee who is in a situation like this may have recourse. An initial step would be to meet with an aemployment law attorney to learn about the process of filing a claim with the EEOC.

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