Wednesday, April 23, 2014
A former division director at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has filed a federal lawsuit under the Whistleblower Protection Act against her former employer, claiming she was assaulted and harassed after refusing an order to shred public records.
Sharon Leahy-Lind of Portland, who was director of the CDC’s Division of Local Public Health, accuses the center and its head administrator, Dr. Sheila Pinette, of retaliation and defamation for a series of events that started with her refusal “to shred public documents that would have disclosed irregularities and possibly illegal activity by the CDC.”
The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland.
Leahy-Lind alleges in the complaint that CDC Deputy Director Christine Zukas “physically assaulted and ordered her to take the documents home and destroy them there” and that she was subjected to such an “intolerable hostile” work environment afterward for refusing that it caused her health problems.
She also accuses the CDC in the 14-page complaint of refusing to reinstate her after a medical leave in violation of state and federal law, according to the lawsuit filed by her attorney, Cynthia Dill.
The documents that Leahy-Lind refused to shred showed scoring results for competitive funding awards to health outreach nonprofits under the Healthy Maine Partnerships. The records show how nine programs were awarded large amounts of public funding while others were radically reduced, according to the complaint.
The complaint says the director of the CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, Lisa Sockabasin, told Leahy-Lind to “shut my (expletive) mouth” and “not to mention the favorable treatment given to the Tribal Healthy Maine Partnerships, or face adverse employment consequences.”
The CDC has declined in the past to comment on Leahy-Lind’s complaints.
In the lawsuit, Leahy-Lind seeks reinstatement to her position or compensation for lost pay and an unspecified amount of money in damages.
Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at: