A former director of development of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland who was fired from her fundraising job in 2014 has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against her former employer.

Patricia Long claims in the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland that she was wrongfully terminated without cause from the job she had held from December 2008 until October 2014 after returning from a legally permitted medical leave for depression and insomnia.

Long is accusing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland of violating her rights under the Maine Human Rights Act and the American Disabilities Act by firing her because of her depression, which she said is a legally recognized disability.

“Ms. Long has struggled with depression and insomnia for six or seven years,” states the 17-page complaint, filed on Long’s behalf by attorneys Chad Hansen and Peter Thompson of the Maine Employee Rights Group in Portland.

The diocese granted Long’s medical leave from July 23 to Sept. 2 of 2014 after she submitted paperwork from her doctor that stated “stress from work may worsen condition,” the lawsuit states.

Long was paid an annual salary of $94,000 at the time she was fired. Her office raised more than $2.5 million for the diocese in 2012, about $2.7 million in 2013 and $2.86 million in 2014, according to the lawsuit.

“Nothing significant happened between the time Ms. Long returned to work and the date of her termination less than two months later. No one criticized her work. No one spoke to her about any need to change her job performance or interaction with others,” the lawsuit states. “It was a complete shock to Ms. Long when, on October 31, 2014, she was abruptly terminated.”

Dave Guthro, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, said it is diocesan policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Attorney Gerald Petruccelli, who represents the diocese in legal matters, said he had yet to be served with the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on it.

Long, who now works as the director of development for the Maine Justice Foundation, was out of town on business and did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The lawsuit states that Long was given a reason for being fired only after she filed discrimination complaints with the Maine Human Rights Commission and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Both of those agencies issued a notice this year of Long’s right to sue the diocese.

Long was told after the fact that she was fired after receiving a written warning for supposedly threatening an administrative assistant and because her inability to work with others led to a high rate of staff turnover. But Long contends in the lawsuit that she never threatened the assistant and that she worked at times with difficult and inept employees.

The lawsuit does not state how much Long is seeking, but requests the court grant her back pay and damages.


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