The Maine Human Rights Commission voted unanimously Monday against continuing investigations into complaints filed against Bath Iron Works by 14 employees.

Monday’s votes supported recommendations from a commission investigator who found that there were no reasonable grounds to continue investigations in the 14 discrimination complaints. Two other cases in which the investigator found grounds to advance investigations were tabled. A third was settled before Monday’s hearing.

Most of the complaints were from employees who said the shipyard discriminated against them on the basis of their age or physical disabilities when it reassigned them out of job classifications for which the employees couldn’t perform all of the duties, namely grinding and work that involves the use of respirators. The new job assignments deprived the workers of overtime opportunities, the workers claimed.

In addition to alleging a “systematic” pattern at Bath Iron Works of discriminating against older employees, some of the complaints alleged that the company didn’t go far enough in making accommodations for the employees’ disabilities, which included joint problems and latex allergies. Making reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities is required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Cases brought by Richard Roberts of Lisbon Falls and Rodney Kates of Lewiston were tabled and will be considered by the commission at a later date. A case brought by Charles Dorr of Sidney — for which investigator Victoria Ternig also found reasonable grounds of discrimination — was settled. Commission director Amy Sneirson said paperwork to withdraw the complaint was not filed in time, so the commission voted to uphold Ternig’s recommendation as a technicality.

Bath Iron Works is owned by defense industry conglomerate General Dynamics, and builds destroyers for the U.S. Navy.


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