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Maine Human Rights Commission finds that Families Matter, Inc. discriminated against a former employee because of her race and ethnicity

Yesterday, the Maine Human Rights Commission unanimously found that Families Matter, Inc., an employer located in Hallowell that provides services to young adults with special needs, discriminated against its former employee, Lisa Pierce, based on her race and ethnicity. Ms. Pierce served as an Assistant Director for the company’s Skowhegan location. She is bi-racial (Hispanic and Native American) and her national origin is Puerto Rican.

According to the company’s former Personnel Director, the company’s Executive Director, Edward McNaughton, once said, about Ms. Pierce, “I didn’t know you hired a woman of color.” Additionally, he said that he once had a conversation about employee holidays with Mr. McNaughton. When he said that Martin Luther King Day is generally given to employees as a holiday, Mr. McNaughton replied “over my dead body.” He replied “old school huh?” and Mr. McNaughton replied “you have no idea.” The former Personnel Director also told the MHRC investigator that Mr. McNaughton once revealed that he believed in “pure heritage.” Another witness corroborated the former Personnel Director’s testimony. She heard Mr. McNaughton refer to Ms. Pierce as the “colored girl.” This witness also told the MHRC investigator who investigated the case that Mr. McNaughton is a bigot who talks down to people.

The MHRC found that, during her employment, Ms. Pierce was treated differently than other Assistant Directors. For instance, contrary to standard protocol, she was not given the chance to defend herself in response to criticism from a client’s sister. Ms. Pierce also did not receive information about management decisions that the other Assistant Directors received, which made it difficult for her to perform her job and left her at a disadvantage when she interacted with her peers and management.

Ms. Pierce is represented by Lisa Butler of the Maine Employee Rights Group.