Company Allegedly Refused to Grant Leave of Absence as an Accommodation

  11 September 2014

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged that RockTenn CP, LLC formerly known as Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation (“RockTenn”), allegedly discriminated against a disabled employee and then unlawfully fired him.

Darren Fraley was hired as a third shift production supervisor. He was subsequently hospitalized with a severe back condition. Fraley informed Smurfit-Stone's senior human resources clerk that he was under a doctor's care and would require back surgery. Because of his short tenure at the company, Fraley was not eligible for disability leave. Fraley was, however, erroneously placed on short term disability. Although Fraley kept the HR clerk informed about his return-to-work status, the HR clerk informed Fraley that he had been mistakenly placed on short term disability and that he was being terminated.

The EEOC has charged that Smurfit-Stone refused to provide Fraley leave as a reasonable accommodation for his disability. Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC, commented that "A company cannot simply fire an employee because he or she needs to take medical leave related to a disability. Rather, the company must evaluate whether allowing the employee to take leave would be an undue hardship on the company's operations.” Read More.