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Woman Sues Retirement Agency for Racial Discrimination


Photo of Gardiner, Maine, by Terry Ross via Wikimedia Commons

An Asian American woman who works for Maine Public Employees Retirement System has sued the agency, alleging racial discrimination, Bangor Daily News reports.

Mary Lee, 64, of Gardiner, sued the agency in U.S. District Court. She says a supervisor and at least one co-worker made comments that contributed to a hostile work environment.

Lee, who is from Hong Kong, has been working at MainePERS since 2013. She says the comments began in 2014. According to Bangor Daily News, a supervisor allegedly made comments like “All Asians are drug dealers,” and “Do you sell drugs?”

In 2016, Lee also asked that the office not celebrate her birthday after the actual date. It is considered bad luck in her culture to do so.

“Instead of approaching Lee’s request regarding birthday celebrations with understanding of or respect for Lee’s cultural beliefs, MainePERS treated Lee’s request like it was unreasonable and obnoxious, further contributing to the hostile working environment,” the complaint reads.

MainePERS recently hired a new CEO, Rebecca Wyke, Pensions & Investments reports. She will replace Sandra J. Matheson who will stay on through 2021 to assist with the transition.

Response to Lee’s complaint is due from MainePERS in 21 days.

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