RANGELEY — The town has settled a lawsuit with its former airport manager and current finance director for $90,000.

The settlement is covered by Maine Municipal Association Property and Casualty Pool, the town’s insurance carrier. The agreement dated May 25 is a full and final compromise of “disputed claims and not an admission by Rangeley of liability, wrongdoing, or unlawful conduct.”

Rebekah Carmichael-Austin of Rangeley, who was a tax collector and treasurer in her finance director position, filed the lawsuit related to an alleged hostile work environment and violation of the state’s Whistleblower Protection Act in the summer of 2019. Following the settlement, both parties dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice without court costs and legal fees.

She was also the airport manager at the time.

The town, through its attorneys, denied the claims nearly two years ago.

The Maine Human Rights Commission issued Carmichael-Austin a right-to-sue letter pertaining to the Maine Whistleblower Protection Act. She had reported numerous violations of law, rules and policy by Selectman Cynthia Egan, according to the lawsuit filed in Franklin County Superior Court. The suit claimed Carmichael-Austin’s job was repeatedly threatened, and she was treated less favorably than other town employees, according to the court document. She also alleged harassment and that Egan tried to get her fired and disciplined, and held illegal executive sessions without Carmichael-Austin.

The town engaged Seven Tree Solutions to investigate Carmichael’s complaints in 2018 and concluded they were “meritorious” and that Egan had violated the town Code of Ethics by the way she treated Carmichael and got involved in administrative functions.

Carmichael has married since the suit was filed in Franklin County Superior Court.

According to the settlement agreement, the parties desired to “fully and finally settle and release all claims and causes of action of any kind whatsoever that Carmichael-Austin has against Rangeley.”

The agreement calls for one check be made out to Carmichael-Austin for $20,000. Payment(s) of $70,000 is required to be to be paid to Skelton Taintor & Abbott in Lewiston, according to the document.

The Sun Journal filed a Maine Freedom Information Act request to Rangeley to get a copy of settlement agreement.

“It has been resolved by agreement and handled by Maine Municipal Association Property and Casualty Pool,” Rangeley Town Manager Joe Roach said Thursday.

Carmichael-Austin’s attorney, Amy Dieterich, wrote in an email that she was not permitted to comment on whether the matter was settled.

Justice Robert Mullen previously denied the town’s request for a summary judgement on the case, according to the case file. The case was headed for trial but had not been scheduled before the agreement was reached by the parties.

Dieterich did comment on the summary judgment.

“We were extremely pleased — but not surprised — that Chief Justice Mullen recognized that what Ms. Carmichael-Austin endured was actionable, wrongful conduct by the town of Rangeley.  The town’s denial of this evident fact has unnecessarily wasted many taxpayer dollars over the course of several years. It is my hope that the town reflects on Chief Justice Mullen’s decision and recognizes it as an opportunity to improve the work environment for all of the town’s dedicated employees like Ms. Carmichael-Austin,” Dieterich wrote in an email.

The town’s attorney, Eric Uhl of Richardson, Whitman, Large & Badger of Portland was not available for comment.

The town reached a settlement agreement with a former employee, the late Everett Quimby in 2012 who was fired in 2008. The settlement agreement was for $175,000. Voters approved the town using $145,000 from its undesignated fund for its share of the settlement. Former Town Manager Perry Ellsworth was to pay $30,000.

Quimby, who had worked for the town for 14 years prior to being fired, filed the lawsuit claiming he was terminated without due process, in violation of town policy and in violation of the Maine Whistleblowers’ Protection Act and the Maine Human Rights Act.


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