June 20, 2018
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Commission finds utility company discriminated against worker

By Heather Steeves, BDN Staff

NEWPORT, Maine — A man who worked for a utility company for more than 15 years was injured on the job and then illegally laid off because of his disabilities, the Maine Human Rights Commission decided this month.

Mark McCue started working as a lineman and small jobs foreman for Tel-Power in Newport in 1990. In 2005, he “developed work-related injuries to his neck, shoulders, elbows and hands,” according to a commission investigator’s report. He underwent several surgeries that his work paid for, and tried to return to work in July 2008 after collecting workers’ compensation from the state for an unspecified period of time, the report states. His doctor approved his return provided he not work in the bucket truck or perform any work that required him to lift more than 20 pounds. If Tel-Power could get him some different tools, he might be able to do his regular job, the doctor wrote in notes to the small company of about 25 employees in the peak season.

The company told the investigator that the equipment McCue requested wasn’t necessarily good for the job. But, according to the commission’s investigator, the company didn’t talk about other alternatives to help McCue perform his lineman work.

Instead, the company asked McCue to do only clerical work, but that work was sporadic. As the economy tanked, the clerical work became scarcer and the company has not asked him to work since May 2009.

The Human Rights Commission decided in a 2-1 vote that Tel-Power discriminated against McCue by not accommodating his disabilities.

Tel-Power did not return press calls Thursday.

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