April 9, 2013

Falmouth cleared in complaint of age discrimination in firing

The claims of former code enforcement officer Albert Farris were unfounded, a state panel finds.

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A state anti-discrimination panel on Monday cleared the town of Falmouth of an age-related discrimination charge leveled by a former employee.

Albert Farris, 64, was the code enforcement officer in Falmouth for nine years until he was terminated in 2010 for incompetence, insubordination and unprofessional conduct.

Farris filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission saying he was let go after management changed in the town, and alleging that his new superiors tried to replace him with a younger, lower-paid subordinate, one in a series of such firings. He also alleged that his termination hearing was unfair.

Michele Dion, an investigator with the human rights commission, found Farris' claims to be unfounded and ruled in favor of the town. The commission voted to uphold her findings Monday.

Farris repeatedly refused to improve his work habits after he was warned to shape up or face consequences, according to the town.

In one instance detailed by the town, Farris obstructed and delayed a request by a resident for public records because he frequently deleted or did not respond to thousands of emails. After the records were located by technology staff among a cache of more than 12,000 deleted messages, Farris went on vacation instead of forwarding the information to the party who requested it.

The town also said Farris left complaints of code infractions languishing for weeks and took liberties with his work schedule, among other complaints.

The commission was the second venue in which Farris has attempted to bring his claim of wrongful termination.

Initially after his firing, Farris brought a lawsuit against the town. In the complaint, Farris alleged that his firing deprived him of the constitutional right to due process. The case reached U.S. District Court in Portland, where Judge D. Brock Hornby threw out the suit in January 2012.

The human rights commission also sided with the town Monday on a second, unrelated complaint of discrimination. In that case, a family complained to the commission after the town's zoning board denied permission to cut down two trees on their property that the family said posed a danger to two disabled children living there.


Staff Writer Matt Byrne can be contacted at: 791-6303 or at



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