On January 21, 2022, the Maine Business and Consumer Court entered a Judgment in favor of Anthony Nadeau and against his former employer T.R. Sign Design, Inc. a sign fabrication and installation company in Portland, Maine. The Court concluded that T.R. Sign Design violated the plaintiff’s rights under 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. These statutes 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 and reporting conditions or practices that they reasonably believe to pose a threat to their own health and safety or the health and safety of others.
The Court found that Mr. Nadeau engaged in protected activity under the MWPA when he reported that a truck he was asked to drive for work lacked valid registration, insurance, or inspection sticker and that Mr. Nadeau also engaged in protected activity by refusing to follow his employer’s unlawful directive to drive the uninspected, unregistered, and uninsured truck. Mr. Nadeau was subjected to unlawful retaliation when he was fired for making the protected report and refusing to drive the truck in question.
The Court awarded Mr. Nadeau his lost wages which totaled $11,223. The Court also awarded Mr. Nadeau $20,000 in compensatory damages for the stress and hardship he suffered as a result of the unlawful termination. Last, the Court awarded Mr. Nadeau $50,000 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 its judgment, the Court noted the egregious nature of the Defendant’s conduct of repeatedly disregarding the law and the fact that the amount of compensatory damages was inadequate to punish the Defendant. The Court also noted that the award of punitive damages was designed to both to punish the Defendant and to deter or prevent other employers from similar conduct in the future. Mr. Nadeau is represented by Chad Hansen and Ryan McClure of the Employee Rights Group.