GOULDSBORO — A lawyer representing Paul Gamble, who was fired as police chief in Gouldsboro, will decide by March 12 whether to file suit against the town.
Attorney James Clifford of Clifford & Clifford, LLC in Portland said March 1 the suit would be filed in Hancock County Superior Court if it moves forward.
Gamble was fired Feb. 3 following two executive sessions by the Board of Selectmen. The board’s vote was 5-0.
Although selectmen declined to comment on the termination, Gamble said he was told it was because of alleged improper use of a town gasoline card.
Clifford, his attorney, first confirmed with the town that the Board of Selectmen did not intend to rehire Gamble.
Town Manager Bryan Kaenrath wrote in a letter to Clifford Feb. 12 “that the board is standing by its decision to terminate” Gamble, said Clifford.
Clifford said he now has until March 12 to decide what legal avenue to pursue.
The venue for legal action would be Hancock County Superior Court, unless Clifford adds a facet to the claim that would bump it up to federal court level.
Clifford said he is considering filing an additional complaint claiming that Gamble was denied due process — notice and opportunity to be heard — prior to his firing.
The key issue is whether the town violated its own personnel policy by extending Gamble’s probationary period from three months to six months.
The timing is significant because there must be “just cause” for the termination once the employee has completed his probationary period.
Gouldsboro’s personnel policy states that all employees undergo a probationary period for the first six months of employment.
However, a part-time employee who becomes a full-time employee or changes jobs within the town office “shall undergo a probationary period for three months,” according to the policy.
Gamble was hired by the town in December 2012, first as a part-time reserve officer and, in June 2015, as a full-time police officer.
He then succeeded Police Chief Glenn Grant, who retired in August 2015.
The policy goes on to say that the town manager “shall conduct a job review with the employee after the first three months of the probationary period.”
Gamble said he never received such a review.