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Maine Human Rights Commission finds that Discovery House unlawfully retaliated against two employees

Today, the Maine Human Rights Commission found that Discovery House, a company that operates 14 for-profit methadone clinics around the country, unlawfully retaliated against former employees John Dana and Colleen Taylor for their opposition to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Mr. Dana and Ms. Taylor both worked at Discovery House’s South Portland location as substance abuse counselors. During their employment at Discovery House, Mr. Dana and Ms. Taylor opposed sexual harassment perpetrated by a security guard and also by a supervisor. They complained about it and counseled fellow co-workers about their rights. They also complained that Discovery House took inadequate actions to address this sexual harassment and the hostile work environment it created. On July 15, 2009 they both met with the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Discovery House. Ms. Taylor told him that she had contacted the Maine Human Rights Commission about the sexual harassment in the workplace. Mr. Dana also told him of his concerns about the sexual harassment. The company fired both Mr. Dana and Ms. Taylor the very next day.

Mr. Dana worked for Discovery House a little over two years and Ms. Taylor worked there a little under two years. They had positive performance reviews and had received no other discipline. Yet, Discovery House claimed that it fired both Mr. Dana and Ms. Taylor because they were “not a good fit.” It also claimed that it fired them because they displayed “constant negativity” and disrupted their business operations. The Maine Human Rights Commission found that these explanations were likely just a pretext for discrimination.

Discovery House did not follow the progressive disciplinary policy in its employment policies when it fired Mr. Dana and Ms. Taylor. Instead of issuing them some form of discipline short of termination for their alleged “negativity,” Discovery House chose to fire them. The Maine Human Rights Commission found it significant that the company merely issued a warning to the supervisor who sexually harassed employees, instead of firing him.

Chad T. Hansen of the Maine Employee Rights Group represents both Mr. Dana and Ms. Taylor.