A Greene man is claiming Lowe’s Home Center stores in Auburn and Augusta wouldn’t hire him because he has cancer.

An investigator at the Maine Human Rights Commission who researched the man’s claim concluded there were reasonable grounds to believe that Lowe’s Home Improvement had discriminated against Robert Hack on the basis of a disability by failing to fire him.

Hack had worked at Lowe’s for two months in 2012, but resigned due to complications from cancer, according to Investigator Angela Tizon’s report. He was 64 years old.

A year later, he reapplied for a job with Lowe’s. He applied for eight jobs at the Auburn store in similar positions as the job he’d left a year earlier.

Hack applied for 11 similar positions at Lowe’s Augusta store.

The successful candidates hired had scored highest during the interview. Hack didn’t have the highest interview score, Tizon wrote in her report.

According to Hack, he was highly qualified, but turned down for the positions, including plumbing sales specialist, despite holding that position a year earlier, because of to his age and disability.

Hack had told managers at the Auburn store about his disability a year earlier when he was hired. He said he would be having surgery in the near future. A year later, when he applied for numerous positions at the same store, he wasn’t even invited for an interview, he said.

He said the Augusta store also was aware of his disability.

Lowe’s told Tizon that Hack wasn’t hired for the various positions because he wasn’t the best candidate.

Because Lowe’s had hired him in 2012 despite learning of his disability shows that the company doesn’t discriminate on that basis, the company told Tizon.

Generally, the candidate with the highest interview score is hired; the exception being a candidate with a lower interview score has a uniquely specific skill needed by the store.

Not all qualified candidates are interviewed for jobs, the company said.

Tizon wrote in her report that Hack applied for the job of seasonal assembly at the Auburn store in April 2013, but wasn’t interviewed. The candidate who was hired for that job didn’t have the highest interview score of those who were interviewed and didn’t include on his application that he had experience with grills. Hack’s application included experience with grills.

When asked later why Hack wasn’t interviewed for any of the positions he had applied for at the Auburn store in 2013, the company told Tizon that he wasn’t selected because of his “performance as assessed by his former managers when he was previously employed at the Lowe’s Auburn store and his unprofessional behavior toward store manager.”

In her analysis, Tizon concluded: “In the end, (Hack) was able to show that (Lowe’s’) reason is false or irrelevant, and that, if it was not for his disability, he would likely have been hired to one of the positions to which he applied at the Auburn store.”

Tizon noted that “there is no evidence in the record regarding poor work performance by (Hack) in the month he was employed in 2012” by Lowe’s. The company “provided no details to elaborate,” Tizon wrote in her analysis.

While she concluded that “it is plausible . . . that (Lowe’s in Auburn) did not want to hire (Hack) again due to his disability,” Tizon also concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to show that the Augusta store had discriminated against (Hack) on the basis of his disability.”

Tizon also found there were no reasonable grounds to believe that he had been discriminated against because of his age.

The investigator’s report will go to the Maine Human Rights Commission, which will vote on Hack’s complaint at its next meeting.

Hack’s attorney, Verne Paradie, said Friday that his client had been hired by Lowe’s in Brunswick and Florida during the same time period, showing he was qualified for jobs at Lowe’s. He was turned down for jobs in Auburn and Augusta that required lesser qualifications than he had, Paradie said.

[email protected]


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.