On April 20, 2022, the United States District Court for the District of Maine entered a Judgment in favor of Erin Papkee and against her former employer MECAP d/b/a Milk Street Capital, a real estate investment company in Portland, Maine, and Scott Lalumiere, the primary shareholder and manager of MECAP. Leading to this Judgment, on February 18, 2022, the Court granted the majority of Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement and concluded that MECAP and Lalumiere violated the plaintiff’s rights under both the Maine Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (MWPA), 26 M.R.S. §§831 et seq., as enforced through the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA), 5 M.R.S. §§ 4551 et seq., and the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These laws prohibit retaliation against employees who make reports to their employer or a government entity in good faith including reporting conditions or practices that they reasonably believe to be a violation of law, reporting conditions or practices that they reasonably believe to violate wage and hour laws such as when an employee is incorrectly paid as a contractor or misclassified, and bringing claims in court to enforce their rights under these laws.
In ruling in Ms. Papkee’s favor on summary judgment, the Court found that Ms. Papkee engaged in protected activity under the MWPA and FLSA when she objected to and opposed Lalumiere’s alleged attempt to defraud the court in a separate lawsuit and was forced to resign in retaliation for this protected activity. The Court also found Ms. Papkee was subjected to unlawful retaliation when MECAP and Lalumiere brought baseless retaliatory counterclaims against her in response to her initial lawsuit.
In its April 20, 2022 Order, the Court awarded Ms. Papkee her lost wages which totaled $113,250. The Court also awarded Ms. Papkee $37,500 in compensatory damages for the stress and hardship she suffered as a result of the unlawful termination, and $4,968 in consequential damages. The Court also awarded Ms. Papkee $37,500 in punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to punish an employer-defendant when the evidence reflects that they knowingly or recklessly violated an employee’s protected rights. In addition, the Court awarded Ms. Papkee attorneys fees in the amount of $25,500 for a total judgment of $218,718. Ms. Papkee is represented by Chad Hansen and Ryan McClure of the Employee Rights Group.