Human Resources Manager Fired Because of Coronary Artery Disease, EEOC Says
DETROIT - Rock-Tenn Company, a worldwide paper and packaging manufacturer, violated federal law by firing a human resources manager because of coronary artery disease, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Glen Janisch began working for Rock-Tenn in October of 2010 as the human resources manager for its Battle Creek, Mich., plant. In January 2011, Janisch underwent open-heart coronary bypass surgery and was authorized for short-term disability leave through mid-April 2011. However, in early March 2011, he received medical clearance from his doctor to return to work, initially for half days, on March 21 and promptly notified Rock-Tenn of his return date. Despite Janisch's imminent return on a date certain, Rock-Tenn terminated him on March 10 of that year.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of such medical conditions. The EEOC filed suit Case No. 1:14-cv-00973, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process. The agency seeks to recover monetary compensation for Janisch in the form of back pay and compensatory damages for emotional distress as well as punitive damages.
"It's disturbing that Rock-Tenn fired its own human resources manager during his recovery, especially since he was getting ready to return to his duties," said EEOC Indianapolis Regional Attorney Laurie Young, whose jurisdiction includes Michigan. "The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of people like Glen Janisch, who only wanted to get well and come back to work for his company."
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.