Former employee sues city of Bangor, alleging age, disability discrimination

Posted Nov. 25, 2011, at 5:34 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 25, 2011, at 10:47 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A former municipal employee has sued the city, alleging age and disability discrimination when she worked for the Health and Community Services Department.

Adeline E. Richards, 73, of Bradford filed the lawsuit in August in Penobscot County Superior Court. On Monday, an attorney for Bangor had it moved to U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Richards is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, back pay and attorney’s fees.

The city has denied her allegations in its answer to the lawsuit dated Nov. 21.

Efforts on Friday to reach attorneys for Richards and the city were unsuccessful. Bangor City Hall was closed Friday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Richards was employed by the city for more than 20 years, according to the complaint. In 2007 and 2008 she experienced health problems, including high blood pressure, migraines and vertigo. Her supervisor, who is not identified in court documents, allegedly made inappropriate remarks to Richards in front of her co-workers about her age and health problems.

She found those remarks “highly offensive,” according to the complaint. When she complained to the director of the department, he allegedly told Richards “that there was nothing he could do for her.”

In 2008, Richards was assigned to a new position, processing applications and administering the Women, Infants and Children program within the department, according to the complaint. She alleged that she was neither qualified nor trained for the position.

Richards went on medical leave in January 2009, according to the complaint. When she returned the next April, comments about her age and medical conditions allegedly continued.

She twice was placed on unpaid administrative leave for clerical and processing errors in her new position between April and June 25, 2009, when she “felt compelled to resign her position,” according to the complaint.

Richards filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission in September 2009. She received a right-to-sue letter in June 2011 when commission staff members were unable to complete an investigation into her case within the allotted time.

In addition to denying Richards’ allegations, the city said in its answer to her complaint that she did not inform her supervisor of her alleged disability or request an accommodation. She also was unable to perform the job assigned to her when she resigned.

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