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EEOC Lawsuit: Hibbing Man Fired for Heart Attack

Updated: 06/25/2014 11:05 PM
Created: 06/25/2014 11:01 PM WDIO.com
By: Zach Hammer
zhammer@wdio.com

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against a Minneapolis-based company for allegedly firing a Hibbing man because he suffered a heart attack in 2011.

The EEOC says Timothy E. Collins installed conveyor belts at the Baldwin Supply's Hibbing facility from April 2011 to July 2011. 

Collins had a heart attack in July, and was released to return to work by his doctor less than a month later. 

According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Collins called the company to let him know he was available for work. An EEOC investigation found he was only allowed to return to work for one or two days.

"We're alleging that Mr. Collins was fully capable of performing his job, notwithstanding his having had - like millions of other men - a heart attack," said John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District. "The problem in our view is that Baldwin Supply, having learned of the heart attack, regarded Collins as disabled and put him on the street. That's a non-starter under the Americans with Disabilities Act."

The lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.  

When reached for comment on Wednesday, Baldwin Supply company president Ron Herem said they will challenge the claims in court. 

Herem called it an "unfortunate situation," and the company denies Collins claims. Herem says Baldwin Supply strives to treat their company employees well, and have never faced comparable litigation in their 93-year history. 

Herem declined further comment on the specifics of Collins case because of the ongoing litigation. 

Baldwin Supply is a distributor of mechanical power transmission, conveyor belt, and electrical control products in the United States, according to their website.

The company has facilities in Minneapolis, Owatonna, St. Cloud and Hibbing in Minnesota, along with facilities in Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Des Moines.

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