Maine Whistleblower Laws

Whistleblower Laws as they apply to the state of Maine

A Summary of Maine Whistleblower Laws

Employees in Maine can be discharged from work for any reason or no reason under what is known as the employment-at-will doctrine. However, Maine’s legislature has put in place several statutory protections that are used as an exception to this doctrine in order to protect employees from wrongful discharges or unlawful retaliation. While many states have common law protections that are used to protect employees, the state of Maine does not recognize a common law claim for wrongful discharge. This means employers can discharge their employees at will unless the reason for the discharge violates a contractual agreement, statutory provision, or constitutional provision.

This is a summary of Maine Whistleblower Laws, make sure to check out the Federal Whistleblower Laws as well.

Whistleblower Rights in Maine

Whistleblowers Protection Act

Employers are not allowed to discharge, threaten, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Reporting in good faith a violation of a law or rule.
  • Reporting a practice or condition that can pose a risk to the safety and health of an employee or another individual.
  • Participating in an inquiry, investigation, or hearing held by a public body or court.
  • Refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a law or rule and one that poses a safety risk, after asking the employer to correct the violation or dangerous condition.
  • Disclosing an act that is below the standard of patient care required by state or federal laws to the employer, the patient involved, appropriate licensing, regulating, or credentialing authority.

Whistleblowers under this act are required to make disclosures either orally or in writing. Also, disclosures should either be made to the employer or relevant public body. Before making a report or disclosure, whistleblowers are required to bring the alleged violation or practice to the attention of the employer and allow the employer reasonable time to make the necessary corrections. However, this is not applicable if the employee reasonably believes that the employer will not correct the problem. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 26, §833.

Human Rights Act

It is against the law for an employer to in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for opposing discriminatory practices or making a charge, testifying, or assisting in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this act. The Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, age, ancestry, or national origin or because an individual has filed a workers’ compensation claim. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 5, § 4572(1)(E).

Employment Standards in the Forestry Industry and Farming

Employers or other individuals are not allowed to discharge, intimidate, refuse to hire, or in any way discriminate against a forestry worker in retaliation for:

  • Filing, instituting, or participating in a proceeding related to the employment standards in the forestry industry.
  • Exercising a right endorsed by this statute either on behalf of himself, herself, or others.
  • Discussing a subject related to this statute with any person. E.g., the employer, the employer’s agent.
  • Filing, instituting, or in any way participating in any lawful complaint, lawsuit, or other proceedings.

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 26, §644.

Occupational Safety and Health

No person is allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Filing a complaint concerning a health or safety hazard.
  • Testifying or intending to testify in a proceeding related to the safety and health of employees.
  • Exercising a right endorsed by this statute on behalf of himself, herself, or others.

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 26, §570.

Public Utility Employees

Supervisors are not allowed to discharge, alter terms of employment, threaten or in any way discriminate against an employee of a public utility or competitive service provider in retaliation for testifying or providing information to a legislative committee or the Public Utilities Commission. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, §1316.

Smoking in Places of Employment

It is considered unlawful for an employer to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for assisting or participating in the enforcement of this statute. Under this statute, employers are required to establish a written policy for smoking and non-smoking by employees. The policy should prohibit indoor smoking, prevent tobacco smoke from circulating into enclosed areas, and prohibit smoking outside designated smoking areas. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 22, §1580-A.

Workers’ Compensation

Employers are not allowed to in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim or testifying on issues concerning claims under this statute. This statute applies to only employers whom the employee has testified or filed a claim against. Discrimination by other employers is covered by the Human Rights Act. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 39-A, §353.

Whistleblower Hotlines in Maine

To file complaints under the whistleblower protection act, call the Maine Human Rights Commission at 207.624.6290.

To file a complaint under the Employment Standards in the Forestry Industry and Farming statute, call the Maine Department of Labor at (207) 623-7900.

To file a complaint under the Occupational Safety and Health statute, call the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards at (207) 623-7900.

To file a complaint under the workers’ compensation statute, call the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board at (888) 801-9087.

Whistleblower Retaliation Claims in Maine

Whistleblowers Protection Act

Whistleblowers are required to file a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission within 6 months of the retaliatory actions.

Occupational Safety and Health

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards within 30 days of the retaliatory action.

Public Utility Employees

Lawsuits under this statute should be filed with the appropriate court within 90 days of the retaliatory action or after the grievance procedure.

Smoking in Places of Employment

In case of injury, lawsuits under this statute should be filed with the appropriate court within 6 years of the date of injury.

Workers’ Compensation

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) within 2 years of the retaliation.

Whistleblower Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Maine

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be liable to the aggrieved employee for a combination or any of the following:

  • Payment of back wages.
  • Reinstatement of full fringe benefits.
  • Litigation costs.
  • Plus any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

Employment Standards in the Forestry Industry and Farming

Employers who violate this statute may be liable for a fine ranging from $100 to $1000 for each violation. Also, each day that a violation remains uncorrected may be counted as a separate violation as long as the employer had already received notice to correct the violation.

Smoking in Places of Employment

Violations of this statute may lead to a fine of not more than $100 or not more than $1500 in case of willful violations. The Attorney General may also bring an action in court to enforce this statute and may seek injunctive relief, penalties, and equitable relief.

Workers’ Compensation

Employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Payment of back wages.
  • Reinstatement of the employee’s full fringe benefits.
  • Reasonable attorney fees.

More Maine Laws

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