Maine employment law update: new laws effective October 18

Maine has banned the box, added familial status and status as a domestic violence victim to its list of classes that are protected from employment discrimination, and added caring for a sick grandchild as a reason to take family and medical leave. All changes are effective October 18.

Ban the Box

Ban the Box Laws typically prohibit an employer from including arrest and criminal conviction questions on an employment application and from using the results of a background check in a hiring determination until later on in the hiring process.

Employers in Maine will no longer be able to ask applicants if they have a criminal record until they interview them (or have determined that they’re qualified for the position without an interview). The law specifically prohibits employers from asking for criminal history information on an initial application and also prohibits employers from stating in their job posting that people with criminal history can’t apply or won’t be considered. However, employers can ask about convictions if either a federal or state law or rule:

  • Disqualifies an applicant because of one or more types of criminal convictions and the employer only asks about the disqualifying offenses; or
  • Prohibits the employer from hiring a person who has a criminal conviction and the employer only asks about the types of convictions that would prevent hiring.

Action Items
Remove any questions about criminal history on your application unless one of the above exceptions applies.

Human Rights Act

Familial status and receiving an order of protection from abuse join the list of characteristics that are protected under Maine’s equal employment opportunity law.

Familial status means living with a child who is either a minor or an adult who is unable to meet their essential requirements for physical health, safety, or self-care on their own.

An order of protection from abuse is something a person applies for and is granted by a judge when they have been the victim of domestic violence.

Action Items
Update your Equal Employment Opportunity policy to add familial status and status as a domestic violence victim. Ensure that managers and those involved in hiring understand that employment discrimination is now also prohibited based on familial status or having gotten an order of protection from abuse.

Family and Medical Leave

Employees can use their state-mandated family and medical leave to care for a grandchild (or their domestic partner’s grandchild) who has a serious health condition. Family and Medical Leave must be provided by employers with 15 or more employees at a single location in Maine.

Action Item
Update your Family and Medical Leave policy so that caring for a grandchild with a serious health condition is a covered reason for leave.

No fee direct deposit law

Direct deposit of wages: An employer may not charge a fee for the payment of wages by means of direct deposit. For purposes of this section, “direct deposit” means the
transfer of wages through electronic funds transfer directly into an employee’s account in an accredited financial institution designated by the employee.

Disclaimer:The information contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Employers should closely monitor the rules and regulations specific to their jurisdiction(s) and should seek advice from counsel relative to their rights and responsibilities.

By Megan Butz
General Counsel, HR Compliance, Checkwriters
Megan joined Checkwriters in 2020 and is responsible for reviewing, revising, and implementing internal policies of the company, advising on human resource, employment, and labor matters, and monitoring and publishing state and federal legal updates to the Checkwriters News and Compliance Center for distribution to thousands of clients around the country. Before joining Checkwriters, Megan served as a judicial law clerk for the justices of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court performing legal research and writing, followed by private practice in Cape Cod.

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