A 78-year-old former golf pro at Val Halla Golf in Cumberland is alleging that he was fired from his job because of his age.

Gary Rees claims in a lawsuit against the town of Cumberland that he was illegally fired in January 2021 by his manager, who told him the golf course wanted to go in a “younger direction,” according to the complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland. The 18-hole golf course is owned and operated by the town.

Gary Rees Photo courtesy of attorney Laura White 

The lawsuit alleges that the town violated state and federal laws by firing Rees because of his age. Rees, who lives in Yarmouth, had worked at the golf course off and on for 18 years beginning in the 1970s. Most recently, he was a seasonal employee from 2014 until he was fired on Jan. 6, 2021, by his manager, Nick Plummer, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit.

“This is an extremely straightforward case that involves direct evidence of age discrimination. It was also a painful way to end a long, successful career at Val Halla,” said attorney Laura White of White & Quinlan LLC, which represents Rees.

Town Manager William Shane did not return a call Friday asking to discuss the lawsuit.

Rees had worked as a golf pro for 45 years and was the only Val Halla golf pro who was a PGA professional. He was the head golf pro at the course from 1976 to 1980 and again from 1984 to 1992. During that time, he ran one of the biggest junior programs in the state, the lawsuit states.


In 2019, Rees began reporting to Plummer, Val Halla’s head golf pro. Rees said Plummer showed age-related bias toward Rees throughout the 2020 golf season, the lawsuit alleges. White wrote in the complaint that “it was common knowledge at Val Halla that Plummer was not performing his job duties as the head golf pro well.”

When the town manager asked Rees how Plummer was doing, Rees told him that the head golf pro “lacked experience and dedication to the job,” the lawsuit says. At one point, Plummer told Rees, “I’ve got one of the oldest pro shops in the state,” the lawsuit states. Rees was fired at the same time as two other older pro shop employees.

When Plummer fired Rees, he falsely claimed part of the reason was that Rees did not want to give golf lessons anymore, the lawsuit claims. Rees had always enjoyed teaching golf lessons and wanted to continue, his lawyer said.

The lawsuit alleges that Rees did not have many new players sign on to take lessons with him in 2020 because Plummer and another golf pro always took referrals for new members.

After Rees and the two other golf pros were fired, the lawsuit says that Plummer’s replacement staff is composed of much younger individuals.

In January 2021, Rees wrote a letter to the town manager explaining that he was “very hurt by the fact that I was told I was (too) old for the job.” Shane responded with a voicemail denying that Rees was terminated because of his age, the lawsuit states.


Rees then filed a charge of discrimination against the town with the Maine Human Rights Commission and the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. The EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue letter to Rees in August.

The town told the Maine Human Rights Commission that Plummer began supervising Rees in 2019 and that Rees was expected to mentor Plummer, though Plummer was his direct boss, the lawsuit states.

“This inconsistency further suggests age-related bias toward Rees, who was required to report to someone 40 years younger than him, but also mentor and teach that person how to perform the job of head golf pros,” the lawsuit states.

Rees is seeking unspecified damages and lost pay.

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