AUGUSTA (AP) – The Maine Human Rights Commission found reasonable grounds Monday for a Westbrook firefighter’s complaint that she suffered on-the-job discrimination because she is a woman.

Kathy Reynolds, an 11-year veteran with the Westbrook Fire Department, alleged that she endured lewd sexist comments and was given the silent treatment when she complained about being removed from a coveted job on a ladder truck.

Reynolds also was subjected to threats, her lawyer, Rebecca Webber, told the commission.

“That physical threat was that she might walk into a fire and she might not come back, and no one is going to know why that happened,” Webber said.

The city’s attorney, Lawrence Winger, said many of Reynolds’ complaints were old news and he denied that discrimination was a factor in the ladder truck assignment.

Reynolds broke down in tears when commission members unanimously agreed that there was merit to the discrimination claims.

“I feel like all these years, all I wanted the city to do was to tell them to stop. To make it stop,” she said. “I feel relief that somebody listened and believed what was going on – because all of it happened.”

The commission’s ruling sets the stage for Reynolds to seek a financial settlement with the city. She said her principal goals were to have her personnel files cleared and to get the department to halt its discrimination.

Winger acknowledged that the ruling sends a message to the city.

“Yes, the city recognizes that the commission findings stand as a finding by a neutral third party that in fact Ms. Reynolds has been discriminated against,” he said. “It’s a finding that’s got to be an unhappy one for the city.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.