PORTLAND — A former worker at Central Maine Internal Medicine lab in Lewiston is suing its parent company, claiming it denied him reasonable accommodation for his religion then fired him and, later, refused to rehire him, all because of his race, color, sex, religion and national origin.

Motaz El Kelani, who now lives in Texas, filed a civil complaint on Monday in U.S. District Court.

His lawsuit alleges he was fired for opposing the company’s discrimination against him and retaliating against him for being a whistleblower, which is a protected activity under federal law.

Laura Rideout, an attorney representing Central Maine Healthcare Corp., wrote in an email Thursday that CMHC “does not comment on pending litigation.”

In El Kelani’s complaint, filed by his attorney, John Gause, he wrote that he is an Arab and Egyptian Muslim man who has dark skin, black hair, and a black beard.

He was hired to work as a practice manager at Central Maine Internal Medicine on Main Street in Lewiston on July 1, 2019.


There, his supervisor accused him of being intimidating toward two members of his staff, which was not true, according to his complaint.

She made comments that it could be because El Kelani was a man, was Arab, and his dark features and color, the lawsuit says.

“She said she thought training would be helpful, but (El Kelani) pointed out that the accusations were unjustified and he refused to accept training when the perception of him being intimidating was because he was a man and Arab,” according to the complaint.

In April 2020, El Kelani asked his supervisor for a religious accommodation so he could work remotely for the month of Ramadan and, if that were not allowed, that he be permitted to use his accrued paid time off that month.

His supervisor told him that he was being placed on involuntary and unpaid furlough.

The next month, he was told that his position was being eliminated, according to the complaint.


Less than a month later, he applied for an open position as practice manager with Central Maine Pulmonology, a subsidiary of Central Maine Healthcare Corp., according to the complaint.

He wasn’t hired for that job.

In his complaint, El Kelani claims his employer “acted intentionally and with malice or with reckless disregard for Plaintiff’s rights under state and federal law.”

As a result of CMHC’s “unlawful discrimination in employment, (El Kelani) has suffered lost wages, lost benefits, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of self-esteem, injury to reputation, injury to career, emotional distress, and other pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses,” according to the complaint.

In February 2021, El Kelani filed complaints with the Maine Human Rights Commission and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charging employment discrimination.

In his lawsuit, El Kelani is claiming that CMHC violated his federal civil rights and violated the Maine Human Rights Act.

He is seeking to be rehired or compensated financially and with benefits along with lost wages with interest as well as benefits that accrued since his termination,

He also is seeking legal expenses.

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