Doreen French. Credit: Town of Hermon

The city of Rockland denies that it discriminated against a former city assessor more than two years ago when she was fired after suffering a concussion in a car crash.

Doreen French, who was fired in 2016, filed a lawsuit in December of last year alleging that the city discriminated against her because of a medical condition. In her lawsuit, French seeks back pay, lost employment benefits and compensatory damages.

An attorney representing Rockland filed a response to the lawsuit Tuesday, denying that discrimination was a factor in French’s firing and stating that French was an “at will employee” who could be fired for “any lawful reason at anytime.”

The attorney, Shiloh D. Theberge, asked that the lawsuit be dismissed and that the city be reimbursed for attorney fees.

French was hired to serve as the city’s assessor in February 2016. In November of that year, she suffered a crash-related concussion that compromised her ability to work, according to her lawsuit.

Following the incident, French told city administrators that she would need about six weeks of leave to recover. She initially was granted 12 weeks of leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.

A December 2016 letter from her doctor stated that the estimated time of leave would be about six months, according to the lawsuit.

French was then told by the city’s human resources officer that she was wrongfully granted the 12 weeks of medical leave because she had worked for the city for less than a year and did not qualify for the benefits. At a Dec. 20, 2016, meeting with Rockland’s interim city manager, French was told that her employment would be terminated

In the response to the lawsuit, Theberge said French did not qualify for protection under state and federal disability laws because she had not yet worked for the city for a full year.

Only employees who have worked for an employer for 12 consecutive months qualify for medical leave under the Maine Family Medical Leave Requirements and the Federal Family Medical Leave Act.