Fired police chief adds discrimination complaint to claims against Bar Harbor

Posted July 13, 2014, at 6:42 p.m.
Nate Young
Bill Trotter | BDN
Nate Young Buy Photo

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The former local police chief who has filed a federal lawsuit against the town is hoping to put the legal proceeding on hold while another panel reviews his allegations.

Nathan Young has filed a discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, alleging that he was fired because of a disability and that the town failed to provide him a reasonable accommodation for his disability.

The documents filed in U.S. District Court do not specify what the disability is, but Young has said it refers to his alcoholism, which he received treatment for after he was placed on leave last fall and before being fired by the town this past February.

Young filed his discrimination complaint with the state human rights panel in May. The panel has 180 days to act on his complaint, court documents indicate, or to issue him a “right to sue” letter.

Young has filed a motion to stay in federal court, saying he plans to amend his complaint in federal court to include alleged violations of the federal American with Disabilities Act and the state Maine Human Rights Act.

According to Young, the state panel has yet to take any action on his human rights complaint. Attempts this past week to contact Young’s attorney, Gregg Frame of Portland, and to obtain a copy of the complaint filed with the state human rights commission were unsuccessful.

The town, through its attorneys, has filed a response in federal court in opposition to Young’s request for a stay.

Young also contends that the town violated Maine’s Freedom of Access law because the elected town council met 12 times in executive session to discuss issues relating to his employment with the town without notifying him and giving him the opportunity to be present during the discussions.

The former police chief claims town councilors were not given adequate time to review all related documents given to them by the town’s attorney prior to his Feb. 26 termination hearing. And though the council was obliged to consider only evidence presented at that hearing, Young says, some councilors had made up their minds prior to the hearing to uphold his firing by now-former Town Manager Dana Reed.

Young was placed on paid administrative leave last fall by Reed following a Sept. 25 incident in the village of Town Hill. Young has been accused being drunk and passing out at the wheel after parking his pickup and a local business in Town Hill, and then of pressuring officers in his department who came to check on him to not take any action against him. Young drove home from the business after having a brief discussion with the officers.

An investigator hired by Reed to look into the incident concluded Young likely had been drinking and did inappropriately pressure the officers not to take action against him.

Young has said he was confronting personal issues at the time, including his struggles with alcohol, but denies he had been drinking or that he encouraged the officers to do anything improper. Young also contends that, at his termination hearing in February, there was no evidence introduced that support these claims or justify his firing by Reed.

Federal magistrate judge John Nivison is scheduled to hold a telephonic hearing this week with attorneys involved in the lawsuit to hear oral arguments in the case, according to information posted in the court’s publicly accessible online document database.

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