PORTLAND, Maine — A former manager at Pan Am Railways has sued the company and Springfield Railway Terminal Co., alleging he was wrongfully fired for requesting an extended medical leave to complete chemoradiation treatment for cancer.

Eric Thomas, 51, of Winslow filed the lawsuit against Pan Am on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor, after an investigator for the Maine Human Rights Commission determined Thomas likely had grounds for a lawsuit.

Thomas is seeking damages for lost wages, punitive damages, legal fees and to get his job back or be compensated for future wages and benefits.

The complaint alleges Pan Am fired Thomas the same day he requested a three-week extension of his medical leave to receive cancer treatment, before returning to his job as an assistant manager. He had also requested two weeks of reduced shifts, working eight-hour shifts rather than 12-hour shifts, after returning.

According to the Maine Human Rights Commission investigation, the company denied disability discrimination or retaliation in the case and said that the extension would create an extreme hardship for the company, leaving the position vacant for about four months.

The complaint from Thomas states that the position remained open beyond the three weeks additional leave that he had requested.

Thomas alleged the company violated federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Maine Human Rights Act and claimed the federal court has jurisdiction over the case for the federal claims.


Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.