Fire Investigator Sues Maine After Promotion Denial

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A Maine fire investigator is suing the state and his boss, alleging he was passed over for promotion because he publicly pushed for using half of a $2 million budget surplus to allow investigators to retire sooner.

Mark Roberts, 42, a Scarborough resident, said his freedom of speech was violated and that the state violated Maine’s Whistleblower Protection Act, the Bangor Daily News reported.

Roberts testified in 2019 that because fire investigators' duties expose them to cancer-causing chemicals, they should be able to retire after 20 years on the job instead of 25. He testified in favor of LD 1480, legislation to make that change, which later became law.

Roberts alleges in the complaint that his boss, State Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas, “was very unhappy about the effect that LD 1480 had on his budget.”

Roberts is additionally suing the state because of gender discrimination. He still works as a fire investigator but said that after his support of the bill, he was denied three promotions on the basis of his gender.

He was told he wasn't hired for a supervisor position because he was unwilling to move, but the woman who got the job did not move within the required six months.

The Maine attorney's general’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit on Friday.