Maine Changes Employment Discrimination and EEO Laws

Hand with background check and criminal history.

Effective October 18th 2021, Maine has made some updates to its’ list of protected classes from employment discrimination.

1. Maine employers are no longer able to ask applicants about their criminal record. This applies to asking applicants on an initial application due to employment discrimination.  Also, employers are prohibited from stating in job posts that applicants with past criminal history will not be considered for employment.  Going forward, employers will be able to ask applicants about their criminal history once they are interviewed, have been determined to be qualified for the position without an interview, or if a federal or state law or rule:

  • disqualifies an applicant because of the type of criminal conviction and the employer only asks about the disqualifying offenses
  • 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

For an employer to stay compliant, any questions about an applicant’s criminal history should be removed from their applications.

2. Human Rights Act expands to include Familial status and those receiving an order of protection from abuse.  Employers will no longer be able to refuse employment with those falling in these categories.

  • Familial status includes those living with a child who is either a minor or living with an adult who is unable to meet requirements for physical health, safety, or own self-care.
  • Orders of protection from abuse include those who applied for and are granted an order of protection when they have been a victim of domestic abuse.

For an employer to stay compliant, they should update their equal employment opportunities policies and train hiring managers on the new protected classes.

3. Family and Medical Leave expands to allow employees to use state mandated family and medical leave to care for a grandchild with a serious health condition. FMLA is mandated by the state of Maine for all employers with more than 15 employees.

For an employer to stay compliant, they should update their family and medical leave policy to include caring for a sick grandchild as a covered reason for leave.