FARMINGTON — The Rangeley airport manager and town tax collector and treasurer is suing the town, alleging a hostile work environment and violation of the state’s Whistleblower Protection Act.

The town, through its attorneys, has denied the claims.

Rebekah Carmichael of Rangeley reported numerous violations of law, rule and policy by Selectman Cynthia Egan, according to the lawsuit filed in Franklin County Superior Court.

“In response, Ms. Carmichael’s job has been repeatedly threatened, and she has been treated less favorably than other town employees,” according to the suit.

Carmichael’s complaint alleges Egan harassed her, tried to get her fired and disciplined, and held illegal executive sessions pertaining to Carmichael without her being present. She also alleges Egan acted on her own to contact the town’s attorney without board approval.

The town engaged Seven Tree Solutions to investigate Carmichael’s complaints in 2018. The investigator interviewed individuals, including Carmichael, Egan, other selectmen, the town attorney and the town manager, and concluded Carmichael’s complaints were “meritorious” and that Egan had violated the town Code of Ethics by the way she treated Carmichael and got involved in administrative functions. The report also substantiated Carmichael’s report that Egan had repeatedly violated the town’s policy for contacting legal services, according to the lawsuit.

Carmichael’s complaint asks the court to compel the town to desist from all unlawful retaliation and to pay lost wages, compensatory damages and all litigation costs and attorney fees.

The complaint and request for a jury trial and relief was filed on Carmichael’s behalf by attorney Amy Dieterich of Skelton Taintor & Abbott in Auburn.

Carmichael also filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and was issued a right-to-sue letter, according to the lawsuit.

Town attorneys Frederick F. Costlow and Eric J. Uhl of the Bangor law firm of Richards, Whitman, Large & Badger, deny the conduct alleged in Carmichael’s complaint to the Maine Human Rights Commission and deny any violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act, according to a document filed with the court. They asked the court to dismiss and/or deny the complaint, rule in the town’s favor and award the town costs, attorneys’ fees and other relief deemed just and proper.

Eagan was elected selectman in 2014 and chairman of the board in July 2016 but is no longer chairman.

Carmichael has worked for the town since May 2013 and was appointed airport manager by the board in March 2014. She is supervised by the town manager.

This is the second Whistleblower Protection Act complaint filed against the town since 2010. Former Public Works Foreman Everett Quimby filed a lawsuit over his firing in 2008. The civil case claimed he was fired without due process in violation of town policy and the Whistleblower Protection Act.

It was settled prior to going to court for $175,000 in 2012. The town paid $145,000 and former Town Manager Perry Ellsworth was responsible for $30,000. The town and Ellsworth denied any liability to Quimby and the parties agreed that the settlement was a compromise of disputed claims, according to the agreement.


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