The Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has found that the Waterville Police Department discriminated against Sgt. Jeffrey Bearce when it refused to accommodate medical limitations related to leukemia (a form of cancer). After battling leukemia for about a year, Bearce’s doctor cleared him to return to work in December 2010 without restrictions. Rather than return him to work, Waterville sent Bearce for further evaluation. The MHRC found that Waterville should have allowed Bearce to return to work and put him on light duty, such as desk work, while it further evaluated his limitations.
While Bearce underwent the further evaluation that Waterville required him to undergo before it would let him return to work, his cancer symptoms returned. He became unable to work again for a period of time but in the summer of 2011 he underwent a bone marrow transplant and his leukemia is now in full remission.
Now that the MHRC has found in favor of Bearce, it will attempt to facilitate a negotiated settlement between Bearce and Waterville. If that fails, the next step could be a lawsuit.