MADISON — The town’s former economic development director is suing the town for sex discrimination, saying she received treatment different from that of male employees and that her employment was terminated because she complained about it.

A federal lawsuit filed earlier this month by Joy Hikel, of Skowhegan, against the town of Madison claims that the Board of Selectmen and the town manager treated Hikel differently, and when she complained her contract was not renewed. The lawsuit was filed on March 8 in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Former and current town officials would not comment on the claim.

According to Hikel’s complaint, two male employees of the town each received salary increases at the same time Hikel requested a raise and was denied.

She said that the town’s personnel policy and her contract required that she be given salary increases at certain times and that when an attorney for the town verified her claim in May 2011, it was not until July that she received the raise.

After that, Hikel said she was treated differently by the town manager, including being excluded from meetings, having close supervision and having to move to a smaller office in the back of the building.

She filed grievances with the Board of Selectmen and the town manager in November 2011 but nothing changed, Hikel states in the lawsuit.

Her contract was set to expire on June 30, 2012, but she was told in March 2012 it would not be renewed and was forced to take a leave of absence from March 23 through April 5, 2012, according to the lawsuit.

Town Manager Dana Berry, who took over the position on June 30, 2011, said he could not comment on an ongoing lawsuit. Norman Dean, Madison’s former town manager, also said he had no comment.

Hikel said she couldn’t comment on the lawsuit but said that she filed it because she thinks many women in the workforce face problems similar to what she experienced.

“I think there are a lot of women who are reluctant to speak out and are accepting of poor treatment. I want to take a stand against it,” she said.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court judge D. Brock Hornby and a date for trial is pending.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
[email protected]

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