Boat company appeals verdict

ELLSWORTH — The Hinckley Company is appealing a $315,000 judgment awarded to an Ellsworth man for workplace discrimination.

The builder of luxury yachts filed the appeal earlier this week, according to A. J. Greif, the attorney representing the plaintiff, Wayne Johnson.

Johnson was working as a carpenter at Morris Yachts when he applied for work at Hinckley’s Trenton facility in October 2009, about a month after he had back surgery. He had previously worked at Hinckley.

In speaking with a supervisor, Johnson assured that person that he would be medically cleared to resume work and was led to believe that he would start in a couple of weeks. However, upon providing a note from his doctor stating he was medically capable of doing the job to management, he reportedly was told the company was not hiring.

Johnson subsequently filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission. After investigating the matter, the commission determined in March 2012 that there were reasonable grounds to believe Hinckley had unlawfully discriminated against Johnson.

Johnson then filed a civil complaint in Hancock County Superior Court.

Following a two-day trial which began June 16, the jury returned a verdict in Johnson’s favor in a 7-1 decision, Greif said.

During the trial, Hinckley argued that Johnson had already given two-weeks notice that he was leaving his job at Morris before being informed that he would not be hired by Hinckley, according to court documents. The jury found otherwise.

The $315,000 award includes $150,000 in compensatory damages, $145,000 in punitive damages and $20,555 in pay back that he would have received if employed.

Johnson also was seeking front pay and reinstatement to a job at Hinckley. In an evidentiary hearing to discuss these issues, the court found that “a history of hostility” between Johnson and the company made reinstatement impossible. This hostility began during Johnson’s previous employment at Hinckley and goes beyond that expected between parties involved in a civil trial, the court found.

Referring to a U.S. District Court decision, the court decided against awarding front pay to Johnson, concluding that “a plaintiff can not get a front pay award if the plaintiff has made reinstatement impossible.”

No date has been set for the appeal to be heard.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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