Sunday, February 19, 2017

Denial of Unemployment Benefits - appealed again!

I previously blogged about an employer who lied to the Maine Department of Labor regarding the reason I am no longer employed with him. Well, I continue to try to get the Maine Department of Labor to reverse the decision denying me unemployment benefits. The latest decision came from the Unemployment Commission on January 31, 2017. It affirmed the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings, which had affirmed the decision of the Bureau of Labor...or whatever. They're all birds of a feather, and they flock together. You have 10 days to request a reconsideration, so I did that. Yesterday I received word from them: it was simply that my request was received. By the way, I have 180 days (so 6 months) from the date of the alleged violations of employment law, to file a complaint with the EEOC. That deadline will come around the end of March.

11-16-2016 Maine Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gorman's order dismissing my appeal

My letter to the Maine Supreme Court on 11-07-16 requesting more time to file my brief, as I had just received the audio recording of the hearings held in Superior Court. 
My complaint in Superior Court of Aroostook County was filed in December of 2013, right after the Maine Human Rights Commission failed to properly investigate charges I brought against my former employer (Ken and Deb Martin, former owners of the Long Lake Sporting Club). After the defendants hired a lawyer he had filed a motion to dismiss my complaint due to missed deadline. However, during a status conference, Judge Hunter had stated he would allow me the additional time. I remember specifically, I had told him that I was working at potato harvest in the months just before my complaint was due. In an order he later wrote, he dismissed other complaints I filed (such as defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress) in an amendment to the original complaint. He said that I hadn't complied with the rules, and dismissed those claims, but stated that he'd allow me to proceed with the Whistleblower claim. Nonetheless, he instructed the clerk to schedule a hearing on the motion to dismiss anyway.

So, on June 20, 2016, it was Aroostook County Superior Court Judge, Harold Stewart II who was presiding over cases. The defendants' lawyer argued the same thing he'd argued in his paperwork: missed deadline. After the hearing, I filed interrogatories and the defendants' answers with the court as well as a request for a hearing to be held regarding the discovery. The Martin's failed to provide information which was crucial to my proving that I had not received an equal share of pooled tips. I requested they provide me with the total amount of pooled tips that each of my co-workers received for the shifts they worked with me. I also requested a jury trial, and stated that the only reason I had not previously requested one is that there is a $300 fee. Within three days, Judge Hal Stewart had dismissed my complaint. 

A few weeks ago, I started gathering paperwork and was thinking about filing a certiorari petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. I wanted to get something in at least before deadline. The rules say you have 90 days from the date of the last state court decision (Nov. 16, 2016) to do that. The odds of getting a case heard are pretty slim...less than 1%. I really hate all the rules. You need ten copies, one for each justice plus an original for the court; and I'd make one for myself too, and the defendant, so it's really 12. Instead of working on that, I discovered another option: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) might help me.

I just discovered that the Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) never dual-filed my complaint with the EEOC, and they were supposed to. The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces employment discrimination laws. The state ones are called Fair Employment Practices Agencies, or FEPA. Either the state or the feds can investigate a complaint, and if you don't like the outcome from one, you can get a review from the other. So, I faxed them some information (10 pages total) a few days ago...basically, my complaint and the MHRC findings.

Interestingly, at the MHRC website I came upon a name that I recognized: Michael Afthim. A jury awarded him over a million in damages after his boss lied about the reason for his discharge, and failed to deal with safety concerns brought to him. Now what I discovered was that prior to him filing the lawsuit, Afthim had made a complaint to the MHRC, and they had found there was reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Afthim had been discriminated against...however, they failed to take further action. You can see his name here on page 4; it's the first one under the category Litigation. The MHRC, and other commissions, panels, committees, which are supposed to investigate complaints, and help the parties mediate, simply aren't as effective as they should or could be. The budget of the Maine Human Rights Commission is about one million dollars per year, half of which comes from the federal government... and most of it is for payroll. And guess what? They want more. See # 13. At # 8, it seems an admission that they do not dual-file with the EEOC.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Supreme Court filing fee - unconstitutional?

Rules for filing petition in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Rules, $300 fee to file . Unconstitutional? I think so.

Apparently most states refund fees to defendants if their conviction is later overturned, but not Colorado. Here's some discussion on that. I'll have to do a bit more surfing; I don't know if the case was taken up by the justices or not.

Gorsuch, Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court believes in separation of powers. You know, if it does exist, tell me why are Maine lawyers allowed to become legislators? What then does he have to say about the fact that many of our recent presidents have been lawyers? Have we reached the point of no return? Do politicians and government officials think that the public is so dumbed down or so complacent that we'll just ignore this?  

Let me explain. Just pretend that you bring your dog to the dog groomer for a haircut/grooming. He tells you that you should put your dog on a vitamin. You do that, and his hair grows at a ridiculous rate. So you end up having to go to the groomer more often. Well, when laws aren't clearly written (ambiguous), people end up in court where it's usually the case that they pay lawyers to represent them. So, you see ambiguous laws are the lawyer's bread and butter.

Actually, there's been a lot of research and there's evidence showing the original 13th Amendment, was actually an amendment to keep lawyers (and others with titles of nobility) out of government. During the Civil War, records were lost, and it ended up that a new 13th amendment to end slavery is what replaced the original. Read more here. It does seem like our government is for sale.   

Look a likes - Gorsuch and Stewart II

I don't know if I can handle Gorsuch being on the Supreme Court of the United States. He looks too much like Judge Hal Stewart II.
Neil Gorsuch

Judge Hal Stewart II

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Employer blatanly lied to the Department of Labor

For two years I put up with it. I even offered to help my former employer, Wayne Marquis, of Van Buren Maine, improve relations between he and his employees. He has difficulty retaining good workers, and hires alot of people with criminal records; I don't have one, yet. I just like seasonal work because it allows me time during the year to get other  things done. I manage our rental properties, doing cleaning, painting, evictions! 

So, here's what happened on Sept. 30, 2016. We were moving from one potato house to another during harvest. I was driving my car, with another employee with me in the passenger seat. Wayne was behind me in a pickup truck. I slowed down because I thought I had arrived at the road where the potato house was, but it was the wrong road. I sped back up. Wayne had not expected me to slow down. He hadn't realized I wasn't quite sure of the location which I'd only been to once before. The roads do look alike, in Saint David, on the river side, near Al's Auto. When we both arrived at the location, Wayne began hollering at me saying he almost bumped me. I bit my tongue and said nicely to him "I didn't realize you were following me so closely." He left, and I thought that was the end of it; but a few hours later, he returned just as furious as ever and started in on me again. Several co-workers witnessed this, and some said they would have quit. I didn't. 

I called Wayne the next morning at 7:10 a.m. and left a message telling him that we had to speak before I would return to work. I reached him later in the day, hoping for an apology...but no. When I tried to tell him that at least I had a license and a car to get to work, which most of his employees don't, he hung up. He texted me on my cell phone eventually asking for my time card. When I met him to give it to him, he made it clear that he was no longer going to employ me. Did I mention that there were no porta potties on the job site? Totally illegal. He knew. I told him that my co-worker hadn't gone all day, and that I had made him some lemonade. I couldn't hold it and used a cup to relieve myself at the back of the potato house while everyone was outside. 

Now have you ever heard of constructive discharge?  When conditions of employment are so intolerable, you can quit a job, or be fired, and still collect unemployment, assuming you have earned enough in your quarters. I applied for unemployment, but was denied. From paperwork the Department of Labor sent me, I saw that Wayne had lied, stated that I quit for no good reason. I appealed, and he did call in for the interview. And he lied again. He told the interviewer that I was driving dangerously, and had cut him off. I told the interviewer that was a lie, and I asked "Where were you when I cut you off?" He answered "I was behind you". 

Also, he told the interviewer that because I had quit he had to hire someone to replace me immediately. That was another lie, for he had told me that since I was leaving he wouldn't have to lay off an employee who happened to be a minor child who would be returning to school after harvest break. I'm not sure his actual age, but definitely there were child labor laws being broken. The number of hours we were working was often 12 or more. Furthermore, Van Buren is a small town; I knew the girls he hired, and he did not hire them to replace me for potato harvest as he told the Dept of Labor, but for racking which was nearly a month later. But despite that, and despite that I told them about the lack of a porta potty, as well as Wayne's failure to provide gloves to rackers, the Department of Labor upheld the previous decision denying me benefits. I even told the interviewer about year 2015 potato harvest when Wayne had yelled at me for being late from lunch after I'd driven to Madawaska to use a restroom because again no porta potty was onsite. I did not return to harvest potatoes that fall, but I did go work in the racking facility all winter as I had in 2014.

During the years I worked for Wayne, I often requested gloves, as the ones sold in stores nearby are not waterproof. The ordinary rubber gloves get holes in them within a week. The potatoes are wet, hands get cold when wet. The temperature in the potato house is probably no more than 60 degrees. Since I worked primarily with my right hand, and was always throwing out my left glove, I learned that if you take a left handed glove and turn it inside out you get a right handed glove. Wayne finally agreed to purchase nitrile gloves which I pointed out to him in a catalog he had. Yet after an order from that company came in and there were no gloves with it, he said we were almost done the season and he'd get some for next winter. Then we worked for two more months into June before we finished racking. And I recently spoke with an employee at Marquis Farms who said that Wayne has still not purchased gloves for the rackers, but another employee did order some, but they were not free, and not waterproof. 

Well, I've had about all I can take for blogging about this emotionally draining topic. There's more, like how he hired Mexican workers last winter to replace some of us...but it backfired on him. I will now have to appeal the latest decision denying me unemployment benefits to the Superior Court; and we know from the dismissal of my lawsuit against Ken and Deb Martin, that they are corrupt. Oh one more thing before I go, I discovered there is a name for what I and others are experiencing. It's called Legal Abuse Syndrome, and it's similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Next step - Supreme Court of the U.S.

Under both state and federal laws, an employee who notifies an employer of illegal policies and practices in the workplace, and who is fired for doing so, is protected by what are called Whistleblower statutes. Well, after the Maine Human Rights Commission took two years to investigate, then dismissed my complaint against Ken and Deb Martin, I filed lawsuit in Superior Court of Aroostook County in December of 2013. My case was being presided over by Judge Hunter for the most part. Yes, he's the judge who imprisoned me. Read about it in the last paragraph of a former post of mine.

Though the Committee for Judicial Responsibility and Disability dismissed my complaint against Hunter, it would later reprimand an attorney for doing exactly what Hunter had done: attempt to get a signature, or allow the prosecutor to, at a time when Pete (my husband) was without an attorney. I was away from home doing seasonal work at Wyman's of Maine in Cherryfield when I first read the story on my break in the factory's cafeteria. The Ellsworth American story is titled "Two area lawyers reprimanded". While I've provided a link to the newspaper's website, I can't find the story online. I did save the newspaper clipping, so I'll quote from it:
In a second order also issued July 20, Ellsworth attorney Steven A. Juskewitch was similarly sanctioned for his "repetitive improper conduct and inappropriate action" for communicating with a woman who was not his client, and who had no lawyer, in an effort to obtain her signature "on documents that would ultimately benefit his client..."
In that story, it's also mentioned that former Hancock County Assistant District Attorney William B. Entwisle of Sedgwick was sanctioned for actions "arising from his failure to turn over discovery materials to the defendants or their lawyers in two separate criminal cases he was prosecuting." A few years ago, I helped circulate a petition to Governor LePage calling for another Assistant D.A. from Hancock County, Mary Kellett, to be fired. According to this story on 10-31-16, Kellett is still practicing law in Maine. Vladek Filler, a man from Georgia, who used to live in Maine, and who was on the receiving end of Kellett's malicious prosecution, filed a lawsuit in federal court. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a "friend of the court" (aka amicus curaie) brief calling what she did a crime. I'd like to know how much Maine taxpayer money has been spent defending Mary Kellett, and the other 17 defendants named in Mr. Filler's case of denial of due process and fair trial. Kellett claims she has "absolute immunity". It's absolutely absurd.  

It wouldn't be the first time that a prosecutor twisted or withheld evidence in a case that ended in a wrongful conviction...anyone remember Dennis Dechaine?

Well, getting back to my case against Ken and Deb Martin. I will start working on a petition to the Supreme Court. After the Superior Court dismissed my claim against the Martin's, I appealed to Supreme Court of Maine, which upheld Judge Stewart's dismissal of my complaint. The decision was signed by none other than Justice Ellen Gorman. She's the judge who ruled summarily (that means you get no trial because the judge believes you have no evidence and could never win), against us in a lawsuit several years ago in which my son had broken his arm but had been treated for a dislocated shoulder. That treatment displaced the fracture and he had to be transported to another hospital for emergency surgery. I previously blogged about this, in 2007. On my homepage, type in "Gorman" in the search bar at the top left corner of the screen and you'll bring it up...along with other unjust decisions she's made.

Anyway, I have 90 days from the Maine Supreme Court's order on November 16, 2016 to file a cert petition, or at least put in a request for an extension. I plan on scanning some of the documents in my case  and placing them on this website.


Hungry for Justice - Panel finds no bias in MHRC?

Here's a link to a post I made in October of 2011 after being fired from my waitressing job at the Long Lake Sporting Club.

So, I filed a complaint with The Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) regarding the Martin's. Soon, the MHR gagged me. That is, they made me sign a statement agreeing not to discuss (or write about) the case while they performed their so-called preliminary investigation. Sounds to me like a violation of the 1st Amendment right to free a Commission that's supposed to protect human rights?. 

Regardless, I refrained from blogging about what the owners of this high-end, family-owned restaurant in the small town of Sinclair Maine had done to well as what they and some of my former co-workers were about to do: defame me in an attempt to get a favorable decision from the Maine Human Rights Commission. Well, the employer's plan worked; the Commission dismissed my complaint.

Well, I recently read that last fall the governor ordered an investigation of the Commission, after he felt that the Commission was biased against employers, or the business community! And guess what? Well, read about it here. The story's title, LePage’s probe of human rights panel finds no bias against businesses,
leaves no doubt in ones mind of what the outcome was. The supposed independent panelists apparently didn't look at the documents they needed to in order to come to the conclusion any reasonable person would have after a thorough review of the MHRC. That is, that the Commission is biased. How else can you explain this, from the story? 
The report found that in 2014, only 5 percent of the cases filed with the commission resulted in the commission finding reasonable grounds that there was a violation.
Now understand this: only when the Maine Human Rights Commission finds reasonable grounds (after a preliminary investigation) to believe that a violation has occurred does it take any further action such as mediation (which often results in a settlement offer made to the harmed party) or further investigation. So, does this panel really believe that 95% of the complaints received by the MHRC in 2014 were totally baseless?