April 4, 2013

Maine official: I was harassed for not shredding public documents

By Colin Woodard cwoodard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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In the complaint, Leahy-Lind also alleges that she was "ordered to repeatedly discipline a minority employee who was targeted by (Zukas) and (Sockabasin)," and threatened with termination if she did not do so.

She said she believed she "was being used by them to carry out unlawful discrimination against a minority."

She claimed that in November, after Zukas was "screaming at me on the phone," she got "so upset I had trouble breathing and had to seek medical attention." Her doctor recommended she take time off to regain her health, and she went on family medical leave that ended March 25.

Before doing so, she met with the state Equal Employment Opportunity coordinator, Laurel Shippee, to report what had happened. She said that instead of investigating her harassment complaints, Shippee "interviewed employees about my management performance" and then filed a "confidential" report with CDC Director Sheila Pinette.

"As far as we know, her allegations were not investigated, but instead we believe they began an investigation on her," said Dill, a 2012 U.S. Senate candidate who is now an attorney with Troubh Heisler in Portland.

Shippee did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Leahy-Lind also alleges that when she announced her full recovery and her intention to return to work, she was told she would be given a lesser position in Rockland. On March 28, she says, she was instead put on administrative leave and told that the CDC had "probable cause" to investigate her for allegedly sharing "inappropriate and/or untruthful information with supervisors, subordinates, and/or peers to include, but not limited to, confidential information from senior management discussions."

"This is blatant retaliation in my point of view," said Dill, who said Leahy-Lind's personnel file indicates she was an exemplary employee. "It's not typical that you have such blatant abuse of process and power."

Craven, the state senator from Lewiston, said she remains concerned about the disposition of the records.

"This is public money, so the public has a right to know how it is spent," she said in a written statement Wednesday. "We need more information about these allegations, and I hope they will be fully investigated."

Colin Woodard can be contacted at 791-6317 or at:

cwoodard@pressherald.com

 

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