The Maine man at the center of Bangor’s decision to condemn a section of the Bangor Mall — who is also accused of defrauding the federal government — faces more than $100,000 in fines from the state Department of Labor over delays in paying employees thousands of dollars for hundreds of hours of work they performed.
Two businesses owned by Nathan Reardon, 44, also face a lawsuit from the Maine Human Rights Commission after its members found he had discriminated against a former female employee he had hired as a “work wife” and suggested he go to her home for a massage.
The Maine Human Rights Commission’s finding against Reardon as well as citations from the Maine Department of Labor and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration — detailed in documents obtained from those agencies — are part of the businessman’s history of not abiding by state and federal laws designed to ensure that employees are not sexually harassed, are properly paid and work in a safe environment.
Reardon did not respond to messages seeking comment on Thursday or on other days this week. He drove away Thursday when a Bangor Daily News reporter tried to talk to him at the former Sears space at the Bangor Mall that he’s leasing.
The Maine Human Rights Commission — which sued Ultimate Equity Holdings Inc. and Membership Auto LLC, two of the dozens of businesses in Reardon’s name — is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, up to $20,000 for a civil violation of the Maine Human Rights Act and a declaratory judgment that says Reardon violated the state law.
Reardon has denied the allegations in the lawsuit and filed a counterclaim alleging the woman lied and defamed him. He has demanded $250,000 in damages.
The former employee, whom the BDN is not naming, filed a complaint against Reardon in August 2018 claiming that while working for him as a personal assistant the previous December, he discriminated against her when he suggested in a text message that he go to her home to get a massage.
He had posted a job listing online in late 2017 looking for a “work wife” to “take care of me” during long, 60- to 80-hour work weeks, according to Human Rights Commission documents.
The job posting sought someone to iron shirts, clean, cook, run errands and travel with Reardon. He and the woman he hired also discussed having her give him neck and shoulder massages.
She quit a few days into her work after Reardon suggested in a text message that he go to her home for a massage and made a sexual comment, according to the commission documents.
The commission found in December 2019 that there were reasonable grounds to conclude Reardon had discriminated against the woman. The commission was unable to negotiate a settlement with Reardon and it filed the lawsuit in June 2020 .
Another state agency, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, fined two of Reardon’s businesses — Taco Shack and Global Disruptive Technologies Inc. — more than $100,000 last year in two separate actions for violating state law concerning when employees must be paid and when they must be told of pay cuts, and for failing to turn payroll records over to state inspectors.
As of Thursday, the fines had not been paid.
The law requires that employees be paid in full on an established day or date, at regular intervals made known to employees. The intervals may not exceed 16 days and must include all wages earned within eight days of the payment date. Employers must keep accurate payroll records and make them available to inspectors.
An investigation concluded that Reardon’s Taco Shack restaurant in Newburgh paid more than 40 employees late during more than 100 separate pay cycles last year and that he lowered the pay of at least one employee without prior notice.
That business has since closed. Reardon also abandoned plans to open a Taco Shack on Center Street in Bangor.
When Reardon filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection last year, his filings showed that he owes thousands of dollars to nearly 100 former employees for work they performed.
In addition to Reardon’s conflict with the Bangor code enforcement office over safety violations at his properties in the city, the businessman was fined more than $11,000 by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 2018. The agency found that his business, Ultimate Equity Holdings, located at 54 Perry Road in Bangor, had no proper egress and lighting did not meet safety standards.
That fine was never paid, according to OSHA.
A judge dismissed Reardon’s bankruptcy case due to his pending criminal case in federal court in which Reardon was accused of inflating one of his businesses’ payroll in the early days of the pandemic to secure a $60,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan.
Reardon pleaded not guilty to five counts of bank fraud, three counts of attempted wire fraud, two counts of making false statements to a bank and one count of perjury last May.
His trial is set for June 7 in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
Reardon remains free on $5,000 unsecured bail. He would not have to post cash as bail unless he violates conditions of his release. Conditions of his release include not applying for pandemic-related assistance without the approval of U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services.
In addition to the federal charges, Reardon has been charged in Somerset County with theft of services for allegedly failing to pay plumbers, carpenters, electricians, construction workers and laborers more than $22,000 in bills for renovation work on a commercial property. A trial date has not been set.
In federal and state court, Reardon has qualified for a court-appointed attorney based on his income.
If convicted in federal court, Reardon faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. He also could be ordered to repay the amount of the loans, including the money he received mistakenly.
Reardon faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000, if convicted in state court. He also could be ordered to pay the outstanding bills.