Rockland let former assessor go a month after serious car crash

By Stephen Betts | May 11, 2018
Source: File photo

Rockland — Former Rockland Assessor Doreen French was terminated from her job in December 2016, a month after she suffered serious injuries in a car crash.

When she left the city's employment, then Acting City Manager Audra Caler Bell said French had left for personal reasons.

But in a letter obtained by The Courier-Gazette through of a state Freedom of Access request, Caler Bell had terminated French's employment.

French filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission in 2017 over her dismissal. The commission's executive director issued her a "right to sue" letter at French's request, since the state agency had not acted on the complaint in six months.

No lawsuit has yet been filed.

Caler Bell pointed out in the Dec. 20, 2016, termination letter that French was injured in a "non-work related" car accident Nov. 9, 2016. The then-acting city manager pointed out that French's health care provider reported the assessor would not be able to return to work until at least May 2017 and that it was uncertain what her work ability would be after May.

"As a result, this letter will serve as notice of your separation from employment with the city effective Dec. 20, 2016. This separation is non-disciplinary; we simply can no longer hold your position open, particularly with the lengthy and uncertain period of incapacity," Caler Bell stated in her Dec. 20, 2016, letter.

"I understand the past few months have been incredibly difficult for you and the factors that have led to your sustained absence were out of your control. We appreciate your dedication to the city, and wish you the best in the future," the letter went on.

French had been hired in February 2016 by then-City Manager James Chaousis.

Dennis Reed, who served as assessor for Rockland before French, returned to work as assessor from December 2016 through October 2017, when the city appointed Roxy LaFrance to the post.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Ron Hawkes | May 13, 2018 06:59

More going on here than we are reading. Why did Acting City Manager Audra Caler Bell lie to the people of Rockland in the first place? If Mr. Reed came back to do the job, why couldn't the job be held until they knew the long-term prognosis of MS. French? That would have been the right thing to do, but for unknown reasons at this point, it was not.

Posted by: Dale Hayward | May 11, 2018 15:37

Reggie: They gave her permission to file because they failed to act on her complaint within the specified time so it becomes a default action and they have to give her permission to file. She will have a specific time to file a suit if she wishes and believes there is a causation to file. The fact that the other insurance or drivers or whatever is not mention might just be because the report failed to investigate this better. Maybe it was her own fault, that will do it.

Posted by: Reggie Montgomery | May 11, 2018 14:07

Dale Hayward, The state must think she has grounds. They gave her the go ahead. Besides, no lawsuit has been filed. Robert Knapp, It was never mentioned whether or not she was in contact with the other insurance co. It wasn't mentioned that there was another driver or insurance carrier involved.

Posted by: Dale Hayward | May 11, 2018 11:23

First, you need a legitimate reason to sue. Second, some think there is a pot of gold at every opportunity to cover for their shortcomings. Maybe she is trying to recover twice. No suit filed may be a lead into an "out-of-court" settlement. Why was there no merit with the MHRC for them to timely rule in her case? Why did they let it go past the deadline? I am disturbed by the reason given for her leaving as to whether it was in fact for her personal reason(s) for the acting city manager's personal reasons. Are we going to have to defend the former interim city manager with an outside attorney even if this is frivolous or not? Was the city council aware of here being fired and what were they given for reason(s)? There is a tangled web woven in Rocklandia every day it seems, that comes out to bite us again and again. Who do you believe?

Posted by: ROBERT W. KNAPP | May 11, 2018 11:00

She needs to contact her, or the other parties to the accident, insurance carrier for compensation. Why do people always have to sue. Bob Knapp

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