AUBURN — A former worker at an Olympia Sports store in Lewiston is suing the company and his former supervisor, claiming she discriminated against him and harassed him because he is an atheist.

Jason Rines of Gardiner filed a complaint this week in Androscoggin County Superior Court claiming that he was forced to quit his job in January 2013, more than four years after he started.

For the first four years, Rines had no issues with two successive supervising managers, according to his complaint. They gave him positive job performance evaluations and he received periodic bonuses for reaching monthly sales quotas.

Lori Brooks of Lisbon Falls was hired as supervising manager of the Lewiston store in October 2012. A month later, “Brooks began to interject her religious beliefs into conversations with (Rines) during work hours at the store,” according to his complaint. “Brooks made it clear to (Rines) that she was devoutly Christian and that her religion plays a paramount role in her life,” court papers said.

Rines is an atheist and did not wish to discuss religion at work, according to the lawsuit.

Brooks learned that Rines was an atheist when he told her in November that he didn’t believe in God. After that, Brooks “began harassing him about his religious beliefs on a fairly frequent basis when they were at the store working together,” according to the complaint.

Brooks and another church member she had hired to work at the store would talk about religion when Rines was near, the complaint says. She would often ask him to join her church, “making the workplace an uncomfortable and hostile place.”

Brooks told Rines in December 2012 that she was considering hiring two members of her church to work at the store, both in supervisory positions; one of the positions, that of manager-trainee, was occupied by Rines.

A district manager for the chain was aware of Brooks’ effort to inject religion into workplace conversation and told her to “settle it down,” according to the complaint.

In mid-December 2012, Brooks informed Rines that someone had taken money from her purse, which she had left in the store’s back room. Rines told her he didn’t know anything about it, the complaint says.

Later that month, the district manager and the store’s loss prevention consultant came to the store and asked Rines about the missing money. No other employees were questioned about the incident, the complaint says.

Brooks told the district manager and other store employees that Rines had taken her money, according to the complaint.

Three days later, Brooks’ church pastor came to the store and gave Rines a Christmas present: a compact disc of Christian music and a book written by a “former atheist.”

The pastor had learned from Brooks that Rines was an atheist, the complaint says.

Two days after that, Rines told Brooks that “the past few weeks had been awful and that he felt betrayed by her given all that he had done” for her and the company and that it was his intent to leave because of the workplace situation that had been created for him.

Brook responded: “OK,” according to the complaint.

Not only had she managed to replace him with church members, but Brooks had also led them to believe he had stolen her money and that was the reason for his departure, the complaint says.

Rines is seeking lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages under the Maine Human Rights Act, which bars employment discrimination against a person on the basis of religion.

Rines is claiming religious discrimination and harassment by the company as well as defamation that hurt his professional standing and caused him mental suffering, humiliation, embarrassment and damage to his reputation.

Philip Mancini, a Portland lawyer representing OSC Sports, the parent company of Olympia Sports, said he was aware of the complaint but couldn’t comment because he hadn’t reviewed it.

A spokeswoman at the Maine Human Rights Commission said Rines had filed a complaint with the state agency, and was issued a “right to sue letter” before an agency investigator had time to research the claim and file a report.


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