Former Hermon finance director suing town, alleging civil rights violation

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff
Posted April 08, 2011, at 9 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — The town’s former finance director has filed a federal lawsuit against the town claiming that her civil rights were violated when she was fired in 2009.

In a civil suit filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor in January, Robin Fisher of Carmel, who served as Hermon’s finance director from July 2001 through March 2009, claims that the town of Hermon violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Maine Human Rights Act when it dismissed her because she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit disorder, which “significantly limit her life activities and significantly impair her mental health.”

The town of Hermon, however, disagrees and is fighting back.

“The town vehemently denies the allegations in the complaint and intends to vigorously defend this case,”  Hermon’s legal counsel, Mark Franco of the Portland law firm Thompson & Bowie, said Thursday.

“We feel very strongly that no discrimination occurred,” Franco said. “It’s unfortunate that she feels that she was discriminated against but nothing of the sort occurred.”

Fisher’s attorney, Brett Baber of the Bangor law firm Lanham Blackwell, did not return telephone calls seeking comment on Thursday and Friday.

In her complaint, Fisher claims the town had been aware of her disability since August 2007, when she went out on sick leave for two weeks because of an “acute exacerbation of PTSD.” She said Town Manager Clinton Deschene knew she was undergoing weekly counseling sessions to treat her disability.

When Fisher returned to work, she asked Deschene for additional help but instead she was given new job duties “not directly germane to the functions of a municipal finance director,” her complaint states. As a result, she fell behind on her work.

Fisher said the town manager pressured her to complete her additional work assignments, which she claims compounded her disabilities. She eventually was put on probation and ultimately was fired.

In its response, filed in February, the town says that Fisher never informed it that she was disabled and that she did not request an accommodation for her alleged disability.

While the town was aware she had received treatment for depression, the response states, at no time was it made aware of or receive documentation about Fisher allegedly having PTSD or ADD.

The town further said that at all times it honored Fisher’s request for sick time, family medical leave time, reduced hours and part-time employment. It argues that Fisher “was unable to perform essential job functions with or without a reasonable accommodation” and that to continue to employ her would have jeopardized her personal health.

Fisher is seeking back pay, reinstatement or front pay; compensatory and punitive damages; attorney’s fees and costs; and any other legal and equitable relief the court deems just. She also requested a jury trial.

The town is asking the court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice and without costs.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/04/08/news/bangor/former-hermon-finance-director-suing-town-alleging-civil-rights-violation/ printed on July 11, 2014