Sunday, February 19, 2017

Case dismissed...

11-16-2016 Maine Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gorman's order dismissing my appeal after Superior Court Judge Hal Stewart dismissed my complaint against Ken and Deb Martin (owners or former owners of the Long Lake Sporting Club in Sinclair, Maine).

In this letter to the Maine Supreme Court on 11-07-16 I requested more time to file my brief, as I had just received the audio recording of the hearings held in Superior Court. 
I had filed a complaint in Superior Court of Aroostook County in December of 2013 against the former restaurant owners...but only after the Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) failed to properly investigate my complaint and ruled in favor of the Martins. What the employer did was fail to pay me for a few hours I worked as a waitress. The reason they wouldn't pay me: there were no customers to wait on. My complaint also stated that for every shift worked, I hadn't been paid an equal share of the pooled tips. Their reasoning was that I was a new employee. These things are clearly illegal.

Judge Hunter - who previously imprisoned me in the law library when I tried to help Pete with his case - had been presiding over the case until Judge Hal Stewart came along. I wasn't nervous being in front of Hunter though, even though I had filed a complaint about him which of course got dismissed.

The case was moving slowly, since neither I nor the Martins had an attorney. I tried to settle with them...though if I could have afforded the attorney fees that I should be reimbursed, and could count on the justice system to work the way it should I would never have settled. Finally though, the employer hired a lawyer, and he filed a motion to dismiss my complaint due to a missed deadline. 

Judge Hunter had early on in the proceedings addressed the issue... allowing me the additional time. I remember specifically, I told him that I had been working at potato harvest that fall during the months right before my complaint was due to be filed. In an order he wrote, he dismissed other complaints I filed (such as defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress) as an amendment to the original complaint...but he was allowing me to proceed with the Whistleblower claim.

I was away from home when Pete received the paperwork (motion to dismiss) in the mail. I had him mail it to Wyman's office in Deblois. I was living in one of their cabins and working in the factory in Cherryfield during blueberry harvest that fall. Judge Hunter, despite that he'd already stated he'd allow me to proceed, instructed the clerk to schedule a hearing on the motion to dismiss. But it wasn't until the next summer that a hearing was scheduled, and it was the new judge, Hal Stewart II, who presided over the hearing. And he had been a lawyer practicing in the same town as the defendants' lawyer was.

June 20, 2016 was the date of the hearing. In interrogatories, the defendants' had failed to provide information I had asked for: checkstubs of the wait staff who worked the same shifts I had. When I told the judge that, he said I could put in a request for a hearing on this discovery dispute. So I did. I hand wrote it and filed it with the clerk immediately. And I also requested a jury trial, and stated that the only reason I had not previously requested one was that there was a $300 fee. Within three days, Judge Hal Stewart had dismissed my complaint. I remember it was on the same day that another Maryland police officer, the one driving the van, was found not guilty on charges in connection with the death of Freddie Gray. 

Since the Supreme Court of Maine dismissed my appeal I guess I could file a certiorari petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. The odds of getting a case heard are pretty slim...less than 1%. Or, 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 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 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.

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