BAR HARBOR, Maine — In the name of “judicial economy,” a federal judge has granted a stay in a lawsuit the town’s former police chief has filed against Bar Harbor.
The decision, issued Monday by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Nivison, will allow Nate Young to get a ruling from the Maine Human Rights Commission before Young’s wrongful dismissal lawsuit proceeds in federal court.
According to Nivison’s decision, Young expects the commission to take action on his claim within the next four months.
In his complaint to the state human rights panel, Young claims the town discriminated against him because of a disability he has and that it failed to provide him with a reasonable accommodation for that disability.
Young has said the disability referred to in the MHRC complaint is his alcoholism, which he received treatment for after being placed on paid administrative leave and before he was fired months later.
The town has filed a motion to dismiss Young’s wrongful dismissal complaint, but Nivison said in his ruling that in the event the state commission finds reason to support Young’s discrimination claim, it would make the most sense to consider Young’s federal claims all at once rather than go through the whole process multiple times.
Young had been an officer with the local police department since 1984 and its chief since 1991. He was fired in January by now former town manager Dana Reed following an incident last fall in the local village of Town Hill.
On the evening of Sept. 25, after someone called police to report Young had parked his pickup truck at Town Hill Market and was asleep at the wheel, two Bar Harbor police officers went to do a well-being check. Young briefly talked to the two officers who showed up and then drove his truck back home.
An investigator subsequently hired by the town concluded Young likely had been drinking before parking at the store and that he inappropriately pressured the officers not to take action against him.
Young has said he had gone for a drive and then parked at the store to mull over some personal problems, including his struggles with alcohol.
He denies he had been drinking or that he encouraged the officers to do anything improper. Young also contends that, at his public termination hearing in February, there was no evidence introduced that support these claims or justify his firing by Reed.