June 25, 2018
Midcoast Latest News | Poll Questions | Red Meat Allergy | Foraging | Ranked-Choice Voting

Thomaston man files whistleblower lawsuit against former seafood dealer

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Thomaston man has filed a lawsuit claiming he was fired from his job as a wharf manager for a seafood dealer in 2010 after complaining of workplace safety violations.

The lawsuit on behalf of Basil W. Robinson Jr. was filed Wednesday in Knox County Superior Court against William D. Atwood of South Thomaston and Warner Enterprises Inc., doing business as Atwood’s of Maine, for what Robinson claims were illegal actions taken in 2010.

Atwood sold the business last year.

The lawsuit claims Robinson was hired to work at the wharf in South Thomaston in August 2008 as a temporary laborer for $9.50 an hour. In December 2008, Robinson was hired as wharf manager for $11.50 an hour.

He said he worked for a year as an hourly worker until the company concluded he was too expensive on an hourly basis and put him on a salary of $600 per week, according to the lawsuit. A month later, Atwood cut Robinson’s pay to $300 per week. Robinson complained to the Maine Department of Labor and his pay was restored to the previous level.

Robinson also claimed that he reported numerous unsafe conditions and practices to his supervisors but that no actions were taken. The lawsuit claims that he then reported the matters to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in June 2010.

OSHA’s website confirms that it found safety violations at the wharf and fined the company $7,200 in June 2010.

Robinson was fired on Aug. 3, 2010, according to the lawsuit. He claims he asked the company for reasons why he was fired and was told that one of the reasons was that he contacted OSHA.

Robinson also stated in the lawsuit that he was suffering from disabilities from back problems, the loss of most of the fingers on his left hand and carpal tunnel syndrome in his right hand. He claims that the company initially provided accommodations that helped him do the work but those were taken away in 2010.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for discrimination due to his disabilities as well as his being fired for reporting unsafe conditions.

Robinson filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission. The commission issued a right-to-sue letter on May 22, 2012, at the request of Robinson before the commission ruled on the merits of his complaint, according to John Gause who is the attorney for the commission.

Robinson is represented in the lawsuit by attorney Melissa Reynolds O’Dea of Augusta.

The Atwood Lobster Company was sold in May 2011 to new owners who go by the name of Atwood Lobster LLC. The company stated Wednesday that it is not involved in that case since it is against the former owner and the companies he operated.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like