November 2, 2013

Limington firefighter sues town, alleging discrimination

Andrea Thompson says she was harassed by firefighters and selectmen.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A longtime firefighter in Limington has sued the town and selectmen, alleging she was harassed and discriminated against for a decade.

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COMPLAINT

In a lawsuit filed Friday against the town and four current and former selectmen, Andrea Thompson claims she was subject to sexual comments and jokes, and that her pay was withheld by selectmen after she complained.

Thompson, who began working for the town as a firefighter in 2000, said her reports of sexual comments, inappropriate behavior by other firefighters and jokes about her blond hair were ignored by town officials, who then withheld her pay. The complaint says the gender discrimination against Thompson violates the state’s Civil Rights Act.

The 18-page complaint was filed Friday in York County Superior Court by attorney Rebecca Webber of Skelton, Taintor & Abbott of Auburn. It names the town and Charles Huntress, Darryl Hubbard, Raymond Webb and Bruce Rozett as defendants.

Thompson is requesting a jury trial and lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other relief from the court.

Selectmen referred questions about the lawsuit to town attorney Leah Rachin, who was out of the office and not available for comment Friday.

Thompson filed a discrimination complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission in August 2011. The commission found reasonable grounds to believe that discrimination occurred in connection with her complaints of sexual harassment, and gave Thompson permission to pursue the matter in court by issuing a Notice of Failed Conciliation, according to the complaint.

In the complaint, Thompson says she was called a “bitch” and a “dumb blonde,” and heard comments about her breast size, including when she returned to work after having a baby.

Thompson alleges in her complaint that she was treated differently from her male coworkers after she was put on light duty. Selectmen told the acting fire chief to change her title from captain to secretary, reduce her hourly pay and not allow her to respond to calls, according to the complaint. Male firefighters on light duty were not given the same restrictions, Thompson alleges.

According to the complaint, “the harassment took a physical and mental toll on Thompson and she had to be treated for acute stress.”

Thompson also received hang-up calls and saw strange cars parked at the end of her driveway after she made a written complaint of harassment in 2001, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit also alleges that Thompson’s male coworkers mistreated female patients on rescue calls.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@pressherald.com

Twitter: @grahamgillian

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