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Employment Laws in Maine

Filed under Hiring Workers. Fact checked on December 17, 2012.

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Employers in Maine must conform to these state rules relating to the employment relationship.

Employee means an individual employed by an employer, but does not include an individual employed by his or her parents, spouse or child.

Employer includes:

  • a person in Maine employing any number of employees
  • a person outside the state employing any number of employees in the state
  • a person acting in the interest of an employer
  • any labor organization

It does not include a nonprofit religious or fraternal corporation or association (except in the case of disability discrimination).

Prohibited Employment Discrimination

It is unlawful to discriminate against employees and job applicants on the basis of:

  • race
  • color
  • sex (including pregnancy and related medical conditions)
  • sexual orientation
  • gender identity
  • physical or mental disability
  • religion
  • age
  • ancestry
  • national origin

Smoking preference. Employers may not require as a condition of employment that individuals refrain from using tobacco products outside the course of their employment and may not otherwise discriminate against individuals for using tobacco products outside the course of employment.

HIV testing. An employee or applicant for employment may not be required to submit to an HIV test or reveal whether the employee or applicant for employment has obtained an HIV test as a condition of employment or to maintain employment, except when based on a bona fide occupational qualification.

Whistle-blower provisions. Maine's whistle-blower protection law contains provisions specifically protecting safety and health care workers.

Volunteer firefighters. All employers are prohibited from discharging or taking any other disciplinary action against an employee who fails to report for work at the beginning of his or her regular working hours because of response to an emergency as a volunteer firefighter, provided the employee reported for work as soon as reasonably possible after being released from the emergency. An employer may charge the lost time against the employee's regular pay or available leave time. Notice is required where time permits. Employers can request verification from the chief of the volunteer fire department.

This provision may not apply to employees designated as essential or where the employee and the employer have a signed, written agreement governing the procedures to take for such emergency response.

Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act. Employers may not refuse to employ or otherwise discriminate against a person solely for that person's status as a registered medical marijuana patient or primary caregiver, unless failing to do so would put the employer in violation of a federal law or cause it to lose a federal contract or funding. Employers do not have to accommodate the ingestion of marijuana in any workplace or any employee working while under the influence of marijuana.

Same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is allowed in Maine.

Recordkeeping Requirements

Any personnel or employment record (including application forms, applicant rating sheets, tests and records having to do with job referral, hiring, promotion, demotion, transfer, layoff, rates of pay or other items of compensation, seniority, labor organization membership or selection for training or apprenticeship) made or kept by an employer, must be preserved for at least one year from the date of making or the personnel action involved, whichever is later. Records of employees that are involuntarily terminated must be kept for one year.

Prior to a person's employment employers may not make or keep a record of race or color, sex, physical or mental disability, religion, age, ancestry or national origin, except under physical or mental disability when an employer requires a physical or mental examination prior to employment, a privileged record of that examination is permissible if made and kept in compliance with Maine's Human Rights Act.

Employers may make a record of such features of an individual after employment as are needed for identification, provided that the records are intended and used in good faith solely for identification, and not for the purpose of discrimination. Records of features regarding physical or mental disability that are collected must be collected and maintained on separate forms and in separate files and be treated as confidential records.

Posting Requirements

Employers are required to post notices stating that sexual harassment is illegal and explaining the remedies available to victims of such harassment.

Other types of posting may be required from employers who have violated the state's discrimination laws in the past.

Maine's Human Rights Commission has a prepared poster outlining the state's employment discrimination law.

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