PORTLAND (AP) – A Chelsea woman who claimed she was demoted and subjected to a hostile work environment because a physical disability forced her to use the bathroom frequently on Monday lost an appeal to reinstate her lawsuit.

In a unanimous ruling, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court let stand a summary judgment dismissing Cathy Doyle’s lawsuit.

Doyle, a longtime state worker, was removed from her probationary clerk’s job answering phone calls from Medicaid recipients.

She was demoted in January 1999 to her former position as a clerk typist.

Her lawsuit in November 2000 contended the Maine Department of Human Services violated the Maine Human Rights Act and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to accommodate for her disability.

Doyle suffered from a number of health issues related to the removal of her large intestine. Because of her condition, she needed to go to the bathroom between 10 and 25 times a day.

Noting that her supervisor approved her frequent bathroom breaks with the remark that she didn’t want to have “to clean it up,” Doyle contended that she was subjected to a hostile work environment.

The state argued that she was demoted for failing to follow guidelines, misusing the telephone, poor time management and having a poor attitude.

The supreme court found that Doyle failed to meet her burden of proof that discrimination led to her demotion. It also found that her supervisor’s remark alone did not mean she was subjected to a hostile work environment.

The supervisor said her husband suffered from a similar condition and that she intended the remark to be lighthearted. The supervisor apologized when she realized that Doyle was offended, the court noted.

AP-ES-04-28-03 1126EDT


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