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Bangor Car Rental Agency Discriminated Against Employee Based On Age, Commission Says

Linda Coan O'Kresik
The Maine Human Rights Commission found that the Avis Rental agency discriminated against an employee based on her age.

A Bangor car rental agency most likely discriminated against a local woman when it gave a full-time position last year to a 20-year-old instead of the 61-year-old, according to the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Commissioners, in a 4-0 vote, found in August that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Avis had discriminated against Beth Carey, now 62, of Bangor on the basis of age. The commissioners also found that the there were not reasonable grounds to believe the agency, based at Bangor International Airport, had discriminated against her on the basis of religion.

In the vast majority of cases, commissioners rule against the complainant. In both 2017 and 2018, the commission found reasonable grounds in just 13 percent of all cases that, like Carey’s, reached the investigation stage.

Carey filed her complaint with the commission on Aug. 20, 2018.

A report from a human rights commission investigator said that Carey applied in March 2018 for a full-time position as a sales associate at Avis’ Bangor airport location. When interviewed, Carey was asked if she would be interested in a part-time position with the possibility of getting more hours when the company entered its busy season.

She was hired on March 26, 2018, about the same time an employee who was about 20 years old was hired for a full-time position with benefits, according to the report. Carey alleged that the company passed over her for the full-time position because of her age. She quit the part-time job on April 10, 2018, because she was not getting full-time hours with benefits.

A representative for Avis countered to the commission that Carey was not enthusiastic about the job during her interview and lacked direct sales experience, the investigator said in the report.

Carey also alleged that she was discriminated against on the basis of religion when she was told not to say “God bless you” to customers. The investigator found that because the issue never came up again and Carey suffered no adverse employment action, the complaint was invalid.

The case is in the conciliation stage, during which parties have the opportunity to work out a settlement. Carey’s attorney, John Gause of Bangor, said Monday that if the case could not be resolved, Carey would sue Avis.

A message left for the Portland attorney representing Avis was not immediately returned.

This story appears through a media sharing agreement with Bangor Daily News.