BANGOR, Maine — A 43-year-old Bangor man has sued the owner of the Bangor Domino’s Pizza store, claiming he was fired from the business, in part, for being obese.
Michael LaMontagne is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 423 pounds, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
LaMontagne’s attorneys, Chad Hansen and Peter Thompson of the Maine Employee Rights Group, claimed in the lawsuit that their client’s obesity is a disability. By firing LaMontagne last summer, the owner of the Bangor franchise located at 6 Clinton St. discriminated against him on the basis of age and disability due to his obesity, according to the complaint.
“Michael LaMontagne was an excellent manager for the Domino’s Bangor location from 2002 until his termination on August 2, 2013,” Hansen said Wednesday in an email. “He was respected by his employees and well-liked by the customers. His store consistently ranked as one of the best in the region.
“We allege in this case that the defendant, Team Prior Inc., terminated Mr. LaMontagne because of his obesity and his age even though these things had no bearing on his performance,” he said. “We believe that Mr. LaMontagne’s termination violates state and federal anti-discrimination laws.”
Darby Urey, the Rockland attorney representing Team Prior Inc., has not yet filed an answer to the complaint but in an email Wednesday denied LaMontagne’s claims.
“Team Prior Inc. and its owner, Lee Prior, have an excellent reputation in the community and as an employer,” Urey said. “Mr. Lamontagne’s inflammatory allegations and claims of discrimination are unfortunate and are entirely false. We have faith that the judicial process will show this to be the case.”
LaMontagne, who now works at Angelo’s Pizzeria in Bangor, began working for Domino’s franchises in 1997 as a driver and assistant manager at the Waterville store, according to the complaint. In 2000, he was manager of the Augusta pizza shop before being transferred to the Bangor location in 2002.
He performed his duties satisfactorily, the complaint said, and from 2005 until his termination, the store outperformed all other Domino’s locations in the state.
Prior purchased the Bangor store in April 2013 and kept LaMontagne as manager but made disparaging remarks to other employees about his age and size, the complaint alleged. When LaMontagne asked to order larger uniform shirts, Prior allegedly told him that LaMontagne “would need a tent maker.”
“After the Bangor store won [a] promotional contest, Mr. Prior came to the store with cake, candy and a vegetable platter,” the complaint said. “Mr. Prior handed LaMontagne the vegetable platter and said, ‘Here you go, big guy, we don’t want you eating too many calories,’ and then laughed.”
Prior allegedly told other employees he’d replace LaMontagne with someone who was young and energetic.
The attorneys asked that LaMontagne be rehired in his former position as manager, awarded back pay and benefits along with unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Correction: An earlier version of this story listed LaMontagne’s town of residence as Amity, due to an error in the complaint. LaMontagne lives in Bangor.