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Human Rights Panel to Vote on BIW Workers' Discrimination Complaints

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Human Rights Commission is set to vote Monday on complaints by 18 Bath Iron Works employees who allege that they have been discriminated against based on their ages and disabilities. 

Commission Executive Director Amy Sneirson says most of the complaints are related to a practice negotiated by the union and BIW called Return to Work/Stay at Work. 

The company says the practice is intended to keep injured and limited duty workers on the job when they are unable to do parts of their work.  Sneirson says the complainants allege that the practice has a greater impact on older workers and those with disabilities.  

She says one of the key reasons the complaints were filed involves overtime. "When employees who were moved to a different position under the Return to Work/Stay at Work process, they were not eligible for overtime work, and that, for BIW workers and every other worker, can mean a lot of money missed out on."

The commission's vote follows an investigation which found that in 15 of the 18 cases there is no indication of discrimination.  However, Sneirson says in three of the cases, investigators determined that there was discrimination based on disability, though not on age.