An Augusta Civic Center worker is suing the city, saying it allowed sex and gender discrimination at her workplace despite her objections and repeated reports.

Carol Godbout of Augusta, through attorney Rebecca Webber, filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Bangor, seeking a permanent injunction preventing retaliation against Godbout and an unspecified amount of damages, including lost wages and benefits.

Godbout, who was hired at the city-owned civic center in 2002 as a cook, alleges her constitutional and civil rights were violated and that she was a victim of gender discrimination. She says comments demeaning to her and about women began almost as soon as she started working there.

Godbout is still employed by the city at the Augusta Civic Center, according to City Manager William Bridgeo, and is currently on a medical leave of absence. He said Friday he could not comment further because the lawsuit is pending, and he expects the city to file a response to the complaint through the city’s insurance carrier, the Maine Municipal Association.

Godbout’s complaint says she spoke several times to supervisors about offensive comments being made to her by one particular co-worker who was “obsessed with her sexual orientation.” She says in the complaint that management treated the male workers better and differently than they treated her. Godbout was the only female cook in the kitchen.

“The men in the kitchen made medical appointments, went to them, came back and were allowed to make up time missed,” the complaint says. “They weren’t forced to take vacation/sick time.”

She says that she had to take off a full day to attend a medical appointment and was not allowed to make up the time. She also says she was denied any overtime work while the men received it routinely.

In December 2012, other women employees reported the ongoing comments about Godbout to management, yet no action was taken to address the behavior, the complaint says.

It says the male coworkers would discuss the work plans and deliberately exclude Godbout, ignoring her and refusing her offer to help.

She said she was a victim of retaliation after she went to the human resources office to try to get the behavior stopped.

In May 2013, Godbout was out of work on medical leave caused by stress at work, and when she returned, the harassment continued under a newly hired supervisor, according to the complaint.

“Godbout was also routinely subjected to vile, offensive, threatening, and pervasive sexual harassment, directed at her because of her status as a female commercial cook,” which resulted in an “intimidating, hostile and offensive working environment,” the complaint says.

It accuses the city of acting with malice and reckless indifference. “To date, defendant has taken no remedial action in response to complaints made by Godbout. To the extent the defendant claims it has allowed some of the harassers to retire, the responses were neither prompt nor appropriate,” the complaint says.

When asked on Friday, Bridgeo said the lawsuit has “absolutely no connection” to the recent retirement of civic center Director Dana Colwill.

The complaint says Bridgeo and others failed to act.

The case, in which a jury trial is requested, is being handled by U.S. District Judge Jon D. Levy and has been referred to Magistrate Judge John Nivison.


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