State trooper says union, superiors mistreated him because of friendship with gay colleague

Posted March 13, 2013, at 7:40 p.m.

YORK, Maine — A state trooper has filed a complaint against his union with the Maine Labor Relations Board, arguing in part that union leaders have treated him with hostility since learning he was friends with a fellow trooper who is gay.

An attorney representing the union, the Maine State Troopers Association, has filed responses denying the allegations and asking the board to dismiss the complaint.

Barbara Goodwin, an attorney representing Maine State Trooper Jarrett MacKinnon in his case against the union, said she is waiting to learn from the board whether it will hold a hearing on the complaint.

In a brief filed last month in support of his initial complaint against the association, MacKinnon alleged that he has been unfairly targeted for discipline by superiors for several years. He also argued that the union leaders who were supposed to represent his interests against the disciplinary actions did so in “bad faith” because of “personal animosity” toward him.

“In [MacKinnon’s] case, the hostility began as early as his field training days,” reads the trooper’s latest brief, filed on his behalf by Goodwin. “He was stigmatized because of his association with … a homosexual trooper. [MacKinnon] … had to endure questions and taunts about his sexuality.

“In the first quarter of 2006, [MacKinnon] became a target for several members of the command staff,” the brief continues. “The result was a number of internal investigations being opened, most of which were related. These investigations were unfair and biased, and in at least one case, abetted by the association.”

MacKinnon alleges that the union in 2006 conspired with administrative officers to support an internal affairs investigation into a court date the trooper allegedly missed because of a family medical problem, and despite concerns about the union representation allegedly expressed by himself and a dispatcher aware of the treatment, MacKinnon said he was ultimately fired later in the year as a result of the probe.

Among the things MacKinnon alleges he urged union representatives to investigate on his behalf before he was terminated was “any connection between the sudden flurry of [internal affairs] charges and his relationship with [the gay trooper].”

MacKinnon pursued arbitration through a private attorney and said he was reinstated without union support.

The most recent incident of dispute described in MacKinnon’s brief took place in July 2011, when the trooper sought permission to pursue into New Hampshire motorcyclists first seen traveling at almost 100 mph on the highway near Old Orchard Beach.

MacKinnon said he received permission from a supervisor to continue pursuit of the speeding motorcyclists past state lines, but later was allegedly disciplined for breaking pursuit policies without any testimony from the supervisor who approved the action.

Craig Poulin, executive director of the Maine State Troopers Association and previously a superior officer with whom MacKinnon stated he shared “a lengthy history of animosity,” said on Wednesday he cannot comment on the trooper’s complaint.

William McKinley, an attorney with the Portland firm Troubh Heisler, representing the association, told the BDN in an email the union denies MacKinnon’s allegations and is asking the Maine Labor Relations Board to throw out his complaint.

“I filed on behalf of MSTA an answer to the complaint denying the essential facts asserted in the complaint and denying that the association had breached its duty of fair representation,” McKinley wrote. “I also recently filed a memorandum asserting that the complaint should be dismissed.”

Also named as respondents in the complaint, but are not yet actively involved in the case, are the Maine Department of Public Safety and the Maine State Police.

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