STANDISH — A Maine Human Rights Commission investigator has recommended the dismissal of a discrimination complaint filed by Standish’s former town manager.

Kris Tucker, who was fired a year and a half ago after seven months on the job in 2018, said he was a victim of assault, false allegations of harassment and sexual harassment by a town employee whose mother is a town councilor. He said the employee, who kicked him from behind in the rear/groin area, also made allegations of harassment against him, including that he discussed a potentially cancerous lump on one of his testicles.

A third party investigation during Tucker’s tenure exonerated him of harassment.

Three days after he was fired, Tucker filed a complaint against the employee with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. A Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office captain confirmed at the time that Tucker filed the complaint on July 26, 2018, but did not provide further information.

Tucker File photo

Tucker’s firing without cause led to uncertainty in town for months, among both town government and residents.

The case against the town of Standish is on the commission’s agenda for its Jan. 27 meeting, when it is likely the panel will accept the investigator’s recommendation and dismiss Tucker’s case.

A commission finding for a complainant is often the precursor to the complainant filing a lawsuit. However, the investigator’s report says there are no reasonable grounds for Tucker’s claims that the town discriminated against him on the basis of a medical disability or that the town retaliated against him for claiming a town employee had sexually harassed him.

Tucker filed his complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission on Nov. 7, 2018, saying he believed “he was discharged because of a perceived disability and for reporting the assault,” according to the commission’s investigator’s report dated Dec. 4, 2019.

The town claims in the report that none of the town councilors mentioned a perceived disability or alleged assault in their written performance reviews. Instead, the reviews noted Tucker’s poor communication with the Town Council, poor leadership skills and inappropriate workplace attire.

The town “provided the legitimate nondiscriminatory reason that the majority of the Town Council believed that he was not performing up to expected standards and they were unaware of any of (Tucker’s) medical information prior to that decision,” the report reads.

His issues are not human rights complaints,” said attorney Jonathan Brogan, who represents the town. “They’re complaints about other things. As the investigator found, he’s not disabled.”

The town said in the report that Tucker “was a poor leader and did not act appropriately at work.” Although the complaint of sexual harassment against him was not substantiated, Tucker “was often inappropriate at work and should be trained on how to better interact with his employees.”

Neither Tucker nor his attorney, Gregg Frame, responded to multiple requests for comment. Town Manager Bill Giroux deferred all questions to Brogan.

Town Councilor Steve Nesbitt, who was chairman of the Town Council when Tucker was fired, said he was “not surprised at how things are moving forward,” but he declined to comment further.

At the meeting on Jan. 27, the Commission will decide whether or not to accept the investigator’s report, although Brogan said it rarely rejects an investigator’s findings. Brogan said Frame has filed an objection to the report.

Amy Sneirson, executive director of the Maine Human Rights Commission, explained that “a party can submit disagreement as to questions of fact, evidence they think was not considered or legal analysis we got wrong.”

Because Frame submitted a disagreement, both attorneys will be allowed to make a presentation to the commission at the meeting. As with any submission of disagreement, the investigator will review the submission to make sure it doesn’t change his or her mind about the recommended decision.

If the investigator’s report is accepted at the Jan. 27 meeting, “the human rights case will be dismissed. (Tucker) has the right to pursue it in court if he wants to,” Brogan said.

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