AUGUSTA — A human rights panel on Monday found reasonable grounds to believe a Newport man was the victim of unlawful discrimination because his employer failed to supply specialty equipment he requested to accommodate his disabilities.

Mark J. McCue, 45, of Newport had filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission against Tel-Power, Inc., after he was laid off on May 7, 2009.

According to a report by commission investigator Domini Pham, McCue had worked for Tel-Power almost steadily since 1990, and he suffered work-related injuries to his neck, shoulders, elbows and hands.

McCue requested special cutters and a hoist to allow him to continue working as a lineman.

“It is undisputed that medical documentation indicates he could have performed his work, with reasonable accommodations (modified equipment, work or both),” the report says.

Pham concluded that Tel-Power “unjustifiably delayed and failed to provide reasonable accommodations so that McCue could do his job.” The commissioners upheld her recommendation.

“Mark is a guy who had worked for Tel-Power for almost 20 years. All he wanted to do was to continue working,” said Sean Ociepka, an attorney with the Disability Rights Center of Maine who represented McCue. “All he needed was a fairly basic accommodation: For Tel-Power to allow him to use a different kind of hoist, and they refused to do that.”

Commission findings are not law, but may become grounds for lawsuits.

“We will go through the conciliation process with Maine Human Rights Commission and see if we can resolve it prior to litigation,” Ociepka said.

McCue is back in school, getting trained for another occupation, Ociepka said.

Attorney Anne-Marie Storey represented Tel-Power, which maintained McCue was not working “because of lack of modified work and the economic downturn,” according to the investigator’s report.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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