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MHRC rules against installation company in race discrimination and retaliation case

At the last meeting of the Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC), the Commissioners found reasonable grounds to believe that Hartford Installations, a company based in Damariscotta and South Portland, discriminated against a former employee because of his race and retaliated against him when he complained of the discrimination. The former employee, Jaime Guevara, is an immigrant from El Salvador.

According to a news report about the case, Mr. Guevara claimed that when Hartford Installations sent him to a job in Pennsylvania for three months, a project manager in Pennsylvania called him racist names like “Mexican, midget, and lazy.” This project manager also refused to pay Mr. Guevara all of the wages he earned because the project manager allegedly thought “Mexicans do not deserve to get paid so much.” Mr. Guevara complained to another project manager about this discriminatory treatment but that project manager refused to do anything to stop the discrimination.

When Mr. Guevara returned to Maine from the job in Pennsylvania, he says that he complained again to the company about how the project manager in Pennsylvania had discriminated against him. In response, he claims that the company reduced his hours. Mr. Guevara says that the company told him it reduced his hours because of what happened in Pennsylvania. The company later demoted Mr. Guevara and cut his pay by 25% allegedly because of his discrimination complaints.

Hartford Installations denied that Mr. Guevara experienced any discriminatory treatment in Pennsylvania. However, a MHRC investigator spoke with workers who worked with Mr. Guevara in Pennsylvania and they confirmed that the project manager down there called Mr. Guevara racist, degrading names.

Now that the MHRC has found reasonable grounds to believe that Hartford Installations discriminated and retaliated against Mr. Guevara, the MHRC will attempt to engage Mr. Guevara and the company in conciliation efforts with the goal of settling the case. If Mr. Guevara and the company do not settle, Mr. Guevara could file a lawsuit against the company which alleges violations of state and federal discrimination laws.