AUGUSTA — A paramedic from Randolph found support for his discrimination claim against the city of Belfast and a Skowhegan man was denied support for his claim against Pan Am Railways Inc.
The two cases were handled separately Monday in public hearings before the Maine Human Rights Commission.
Commission findings are not law but may become grounds for lawsuits.
The panel voted 4-0 to find reasonable grounds that Belfast officials unlawfully discriminated against David R. Cobb, of Randolph, by denying him an accommodation for a physical disability.
According to a report by commission investigator Robert Beauchesne, Cobb worked for the Belfast Fire and Ambulance Department from February 2011 until his resignation 15 months later. Cobb claimed that his employer failed to grant his request to be allowed to work two rather than three nights a week for a two-month period.
Cobb was a full-time employee, working three 13-hour shifts a week, he said.
The request, according to a note from his doctor, was “due to poorly controlled blood sugars.” Cobb has non-insulin-dependent diabetes, according to the report.
Cobb underwent a separate medical evaluation by a doctor selected by the city, who reported that high blood sugars were related to Cobb’s “poor diabetes management, specifically with regard to the food he was eating during his shifts” and that his condition did not pose a public safety risk and was not work-related, Beauchesne’s report says.
Cobb then resigned because of the accommodation denial.
Beauchesne concluded that the requested accommodation was reasonable because it was supported by Cobb’s physician; the city’s doctor did not recommend denial; and in fact, that doctor found that Cobb’s blood sugar levels fell while he was on temporary medical leave.
Beauchesne also said accommodating Cobb would not have posed an undue hardship for the city.
“Under the circumstances, it was reasonable for (Cobb) to decide that he had no choice but to resign in order to safeguard his health,” Beauchesne wrote.
Cobb was represented at the hearing by attorney Peter Bickerkman.
“I’m not seeking to be regarded as disabled,” Cobb said on Tuesday. “I want to work.” A former Randolph selectman and former Pittston fire chief, Cobb said he has been a paramedic since 1979.
Attorney Mark Franco represented the city.
In the other case, the commissioners deadlocked 2-2 on a recommendation by their investigator to find reasonable grounds that discrimination occurred by Pan Am Railways, Inc., of Billerica, Mass., in a case involving David Crockett, of Skowhegan. Because of the deadlock, the finding became no reasonable grounds to believe that unlawful discrimination occurred.
Crockett had worked as a carman for the freight railroad for about 15 years when Pan Am removed him around March 2012 because of safety concerns and required him to see a neuro-psychologist as part of a process to return to work.
A report by commission investigator Victoria Ternig recommended a finding of reasonable grounds to believe that discrimination occurred because Pan Am did not allow him to return to work and “failed to send (Crockett) to a qualified medical specialist of its choice and failed to bear the costs associated with this referral,” Ternig wrote.
Ternig recommended a finding of no reasonable grounds on a separate charge by Crockett that he was a victim of whistleblower retaliation. That was upheld.