Having an HR department, or at least someone knowledgeable about the anti-discrimination laws, is something we have always counseled as part of our “preventive law” program.   A knowledgeable HR officer can help develop (and implement) proper policies and procedures, assure compliance with all of the many laws and regulations affecting the workplace, develop an employee handbook, implement appropriate training programs for employees and senior management, assure that employee discrimination and other complaints are properly and timely addressed (and remedied if need be), and in all respects assure a well-functioning workplace.

So one would think that an employer would properly value such a person, and at least respect his/her knowledge of the relevant laws.

Not so, says the EEOC, which just announced that it has sued a global paper and packaging manufacture under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) alleging that it fired its HR manager during his authorized short-term disability leave which was occasioned by his open-heart coronary bypass surgery necessary because of his coronary heart disease.

During the leave, his doctor cleared him to return to work, initially for half days, and when he notified the company of his return date he was fired.

heart patient : Male anatomy of human heart in x-ray view

If the allegations are true — why did the company do this?

An EEOC lawyer said that “It’s disturbing that [the company] fired its own human resources manager during his recovery, especially since he was getting ready to return to his duties.  The EEOC is here to fight for the rights of people like [the HR manager], who only wanted to get well and come back to work for his company.”