AUGUSTA — The Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) is to vote Monday, Nov. 17, regarding an employment discrimination complaint filed against Geddy’s Pub in Bar Harbor by a Hancock man who has cerebral palsy.
The action follows a recent finding by an MHRC investigator that there are reasonable grounds to believe Geddy’s Pub discriminated against Adam Clark, who worked briefly in the restaurant’s Down Under Gift Shop, in the spring of 2013.
According to the MHRC report by investigator Michele Dion, Clark was hired after applying for a job at Geddy’s in late April of 2013. He was asked to report for work on May 17.
On that first day, Clark’s supervisor noted she saw “something wrong” with Clark’s hand as he was filling out paperwork. Clark, in reply, stated he had mild cerebral palsy and he didn’t think it would affect his work in any way. The manager said she was unsure and would have to talk to the business owner about the situation, Dion wrote.
During the next nine days, the manager allegedly made repeated comments about Clark’s hand and questioned his ability to do the job, despite a review by a manager stating he went “above and beyond” during performance of his duties, Dion reported.
On May 26, 2013, Clark reported to work only to be told three hours later by the manager that he was being terminated because of “his hand,” Dion wrote.
Clark filed his complaint with the MHRC more than a year later on Sept. 4, 2014.
During the investigation, a Geddy’s representative claimed the only reason Clark was terminated was because of a downturn in business caused in part by the federal budget crisis that led to the late opening of Acadia National Park. Clark was let go because he was the most recent hire, the business claimed.
Geddy’s further argued that Clark would have been rehired when business picked up except for the fact Clark’s father “verbally accosted” the store manager over the telephone after learning his son had been fired.
In addition, two employees of the gift shop were disabled, and the business was able to accommodate their needs, Dion wrote.
In her report, Dion discounted Geddy’s claim regarding the schedule for Acadia, noting that authorities gave notice of the late opening in March, six weeks or more before Clark began work. The fact that Geddy’s began to advertise for Clark’s position three days after he was discharged also belies that claim, she wrote.
Dion found that the defendant’s allegation that the phone call from Clark’s father to the manager was responsible for Clark not being called back to work was “not credible.”
Statements made by the manager about Clark’s hand were not denied by Geddy’s, Dion found.
Dion concluded that Clark had shown that his disability “was a motivating factor” in terminating his employment.
When considering cases for review by the commission, MHRC investigators either issue a finding of reasonable grounds or no reasonable grounds of discrimination. A finding of reasonable grounds does not mean the evidence is indisputable, but that there is “at least an even chance” of the complainant prevailing in a civil lawsuit on the issue.