AUGUSTA — The Maine Human Rights Commission will hear three discrimination cases filed by residents of Lisbon, Greene and Lewiston on Monday.

In April, Debra Leone of Lisbon filed a complaint against Realty Resources, a property management company based in Rockport, claiming the company discriminated against her for about two months by “refusing to let her granddaughter’s service animal accompany her daughter and granddaughter” when they visited Leone at her apartment at Farwell Mill.

The daughter and granddaughter had been living with Leone until early this year and had been approved to have a service animal in the building, according to Leone’s complaint. She alleges the discrimination occurred after they moved out and then returned for weekly visits.

According to Realty Resources, the site manager who told Leone that the service animal could not come to the property was new to the job and had not yet received training regarding service animals. According to Leone’s complaint, the manager banned the animal because it didn’t belong to Leone, but to someone else.

Leone appealed that decision to the company’s regional manager, who ruled that since the dog was a service animal it would be allowed on the property.

The animal has been permitted in the apartment since Leone filed the complaint.

Following an investigation, commission staff recommended there are reasonable grounds to believe Realty Resources discriminated against Leone. Investigators noted that while the property management company rectified the situation after the regional manager was contacted, that didn’t excuse the discrimination.

In the second case, Robert Hack of Greene filed a complaint against North Carolina-based Lowe’s Home Improvement, alleging the company asked him improper pre-employment questions in violation of the state’s Human Rights Act.

Hack was once employed by Lowe’s but left after he suffered complications from cancer, and later applied for multiple jobs in the Auburn and Augusta stores and was denied each time. He alleges the company asked him for the dates of graduation from schools, in violation of state law since those dates can be used to determine an applicant’s age.

Commission investigators determined there are reasonable grounds to believe Lowe’s discriminated against Hack based on his age by failing to hire him and asking him questions about graduation dates.

And, in the third case, commission staff found reasonable grounds to believe that Bath Iron Works discriminated against employee Rodney Kates of Lewiston based on disability and age. They also found that the company failed to make reasonable accommodations for Kates’ physical disabilities, which include back issues that limit his ability to kneel, crawl and perform overhead work.

Kates was employed as a grinder at the time.

The Maine Human Rights Commission will take up these cases at 8:45 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 21, at its office at 19 Union St., Augusta. The meeting is open to the public.


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