State aide backs charge of bias

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LEWISTON – A state investigator is backing a Sabattus woman’s claims that she was denied a job at Sisters of Charity’s St. Marguerite d’Youville Pavillion because she had carpal tunnel syndrome.

One month after Linda Painchaud was offered a job as a social worker in the nursing home, Pavillion bosses rescinded the offer, according to the investigator’s report, filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Chief Investigator Barbara Lelli alleged “disability discrimination.”

Sisters of Charity declined to comment. The Sun Journal was unsuccessful in its attempts to reach Painchaud.

However, commission documents portray a woman who seemed well-qualified for the job – licensed as a social worker, experienced and fluent in French – but with a health problem. In 2003, Painchaud had carpal tunnel surgery.

Managers for Sisters of Charity argued that the job required extensive typing into an electronic charting system that kept some patient records. Painchaud’s medical history and exam – taken before the job was rescinded – detailed the problem to Sisters of Charity.

The job offer was voided 10 days later, according to records.

According to Maine law, it is illegal for an employer to deny reasonable physical accommodations for an employee.

A hearing with the five-member commission is scheduled for Aug. 6.

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