Auburn firm found to have violated Maine Human Rights Act

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AUGUSTA — The Maine Human Rights Commission has voted unanimously to uphold its investigator’s finding that employees of a telemarketing company in Auburn harassed a Livermore Falls woman based on her gender.

Lisa Cote of Livermore Falls filed the complaint in September, alleging that while she was employed at Call In Direct between May 15 and June 3 last year she was “subjected to unwelcome, offensive sexual harassment by a male co-worker and manager.”

According to her complaint, the environment became so hostile that Cote felt she had to quit her job.

The commission found reasonable grounds to support Cote’s allegations that during her employment, she was harassed by a number of people, including being subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances, comments about her physical attributes and requests for sex.”

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She told commission investigators that she reported the harassment to a manager, but the company took no action to stop the harassment, despite the fact that the company’s employee handbook has a policy that strictly prohibits sexual harassment, saying that “all complaints of sexual harassment will be promptly investigated by the company.”

Sexual harassment, including unwelcome advances or requests for sexual favors, when “such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment,” is a violation of the Maine Human Rights Act.

Call In Direct never answered the commission’s requests for response to Cote’s allegations, and the commission has urged the parties to work out a settlement before the case proceeds to Superior Court.

There is no information in the commission’s report regarding ownership of Call In Direct, and there is no company listing with that name with the Maine Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commission.

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