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Maine federal court rules in favor of whistleblower in case against Crisis & Counseling Centers, Inc.

On January 19, 2011, Judge Woodcock, of the U.S. District Court in Bangor, ruled that a jury could reasonably find that Crisis & Counseling Centers, Inc. fired a whistleblower named Ellen Gammon because she blew the whistle on Crisis & Counseling’s allegedly illegal and unsafe business practices.

Crisis & Counseling provides counseling services, crisis interventions, substance abuse counseling, and related educational services for clients and families at its residential and outpatient crisis facilities. Ms. Gammon worked for Crisis & Counseling as a crisis worker in its mobile crisis unit. The mobile crisis unit provided 24-hour telephone and walk-in counseling services as well as off-site mental health assessments and evaluations, which often occurred in clients’ homes.

Ms. Gammon claims that she opposed Crisis & Counseling’s fraudulent practice of billing clients for work it did not do. She also claims that she opposed unsafe practices such as ignoring safety concerns about certain clients. Judge Woodcock held that there was enough evidence for a jury to reasonably conclude that Crisis & Counseling fired Ms. Gammon because of her opposition to these, and other, illegal and/or unsafe activities. Crisis & Counseling denies these allegations. As such, a jury will likely have to decide what actually happened.

Before Ms. Gammon filed this case in court, she brought it before the Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC). The MHRC investigated Ms. Gammon’s case and found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Crisis & Counseling fired her because she blew the whistle on these allegedly illegal and/or unsafe practices.