A state human rights panel sided with a former housekeeper at a Waterville hotel earlier this week, finding reasonable grounds to believe she was a victim of disability discrimination when she was fired after asking for a 12-week leave under the Family Medical Leave Act following two heart attacks and coronary bypass surgery.

Brenda Webber, of Sidney, had worked for the Waterville Hampton Inn for a year before her April 12, 2013, heart attack.

After Webber’s termination, she filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission. She was represented by attorney Max Katler.

The recommended findings by Robert D. Beauchesne, a commission investigator, were adopted 4-0 Monday as part of the commission’s consent agenda. There were no oral arguments in the case.

According to Beauchesne’s report, Webber had alleged she was a victim of discrimination because of her physical disability — coronary artery disease. She said the hotel refused to grant a reasonable accommodation of unpaid medical leave or to allow her to work in a light duty position and instead terminated her from her job.

She also alleged she was subjected to illegal retaliation for making her request.

The Waterville Hampton Inn, through attorney Lester W. Armstrong, denied both charges “and states it terminated (Webber’s) employment due to business needs when it learned that she would be unable to work for 12 weeks due to a health condition,” according to the report.

The commission voted to find that there were reasonable grounds to believe Webber was subjected to disability discrimination for failure to accommodate and for termination. It also found no reasonable grounds to believe she was subjected to retaliation for making her request.

Cases with reasonable grounds findings move into a conciliation stage. They can become grounds for lawsuits.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

 

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