The Maine Human Rights Commission voted to issue right-to-sue letters Monday for two Bath Iron Works employees who say they were discriminated against because of disabilities.

Rodney Kates of Lewiston and Richard Roberts of Lisbon Falls were among 18 BIW technicians who filed complaints against the shipyard, alleging the General Dynamics company discriminated against them during a 2012 layoff. The other complaints were dismissed or settled.

The vote means the commission believes the two men have “an even chance” in prevailing in a suit against the shipyard.

A commission investigator found reasonable grounds to support Kates’ claim that BIW discriminated against him because of his physical disability, and that it failed to accommodate him, and that Roberts was discriminated against because of a disability.

Both men were part of a group of 24 technicians who were reassigned to other work after it was determined they could not handle the physical nature of grinding materials and lifting more than 25 pounds, among other duties. The transfers resulted in the loss of overtime, according to their complaints.

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