Lewiston man claims discrimination in denial of bakery job

LEWISTON — A Lewiston man is claiming that a personnel agency discriminated against him due to an apparent medical disability when he was denied a job at Lepage Bakeries.

Kevin Miller applied for the job in April 2012 through Project Staffing Inc.of Brunswick, an employment agency. The agency supplies workers to Lepage Bakeries, including at Country Kitchen in Lewiston.

An investigator at the Maine Human Rights Commission agreed with Miller, finding in an eight-page report that there were reasonable grounds to believe Miller had been the victim of disability discrimination.

The report of the investigator, Robert Beauchesne, was forwarded to the Maine Human Rights Commission, which is expected to vote on the case at its next meeting.

After touring the bakery with a PSI manager, Miller was offered the job and asked when he was available in order to work out his schedule, he told Beauchesne. Miller said he was available any time, but had to meet with his doctor once a month to refill his prescriptions. The manager asked which medications he was prescribed. He said he took pain medication for his lower back. Asked about his lower back condition, Miller explained the ailment, he told the investigator. Asked which medications he was prescribed, Miller said he took two drugs. The manager said she “knew” those medications were addictive.

Miller said he was told the bakery job would be a 12-hour shift, standing on a concrete floor and she didn't think he was “the right fit” for the job. When Miller presented the manager with a doctor's note explaining that his medical condition wouldn't affect his ability to work, the manager told him, “That won't matter.” He was told to call a day later.

When Miller called the next day, the manager said there was no job for him at the bakery and said that standing on a concrete floor for an entire shift would cause him pain, he said. Despite Miller's explanation that he only took the medications at night, he was denied the job because of his medical condition or the medications he was prescribed to treat that condition, he told the investigator.

According to PSI, Miller said he couldn't work one day a month so that he could get his prescriptions and wasn't able to do it on a scheduled day off. The manager determined that Miller was ineligible for the job because he was unable to meet the bakery's scheduling needs. The company said it would never have offered Miller the job had he disclosed earlier that he would need a day off every month, the investigator's report said.

Beauchesne wrote in his report that PSI hadn't yet presented Miller with a work schedule at the time he was denied the job. Miller told Beauchesne that he didn't expect to need a day off from work, in part because other people were authorized to pick up his prescriptions for him.

The manager for PSI, who said her mother had taken those medications, apparently told Miller, “Who is to say the pill would not still be in your system in the morning?”

Miller said the manager never expressed to him any concern over scheduling.

In an interview with Beauchesne, the manager said she didn't have a problem with employees taking time off for doctor's appointments, Beauchesne reported.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

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Comments

FRANK EARLEY's picture

This ones a tuffy..........

I feel for the guy, and from the outset it clearly looks like discrimination, but I think the Bakery has a point. I spent many years driving trucks out of Lepage bakeries, I also worked as the yard guy, moving trailers around between the two plants. This was before drivers were not allowed into the plant. I saw the day to day jobs those people have. They are standing, walking, bending and picking up trays all day long. If I had a lower back condition that required prescription pain medication, I definitely would pass on that job. Aside from maybe an office job I can't think of where in the plant one would work while still taking pain meds. The one day per month excuse won't fly. Working a twelve hour shift, is probably an on off schedule. You work say, three days on then two days off or something like that. The pharmacy is open way more than most work shifts cover.
If your thinking that handling bread all day is a piece of cake, think again. That stuff gets heavy, and standing and working on a concrete floor, even for a healthy person is painful. I say go for what you think you might get, but don't count your chickens before they hatch..............

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I'll bet if he'd required 3

I'll bet if he'd required 3 or 4 prayer breaks a day, that would not have been a problem.

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