The Maine Human Rights Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate against qualified individuals with a physical or mental disability (ME Rev. Stat. Tit. 5 Sec. 4572). An exception exists if the individual with the disability is unable to perform the essential functions of the job without endangering the health and safety of the individual or others (ME Rev. Stat. Tit. 5 Sec. 4573-A(1-B) ). The Act covers all employers, regardless of size (ME Rev. Stat. Tit. 5 Sec. 4551et seq.).
"Physical or mental disability" defined. Under state law, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that:
- Substantially limits one or more of a person's major life activities;
- Significantly impairs physical or mental health; or
- Requires special education, vocational rehabilitation, or related services.
A significant impairment exists when a person's health is impaired to a significant extent when compared to the ordinary experience of the general population. The actual or expected duration of the impairment must be more than 6 months (ME Rev. Stat. Tit. 5 Sec. 4553-A).
Several specific conditions that are considered disabilities under the law are listed in the statute, including alcoholism, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, HIV or AIDS, major depressive disorder, and rheumatoid arthritis. The conditions qualify as disabilities regardless of their severity.
In addition, the following fall within the statutory definition of a disability:
- Having a record of any condition considered to be a disability
- Being regarded as having a disability
- Being regarded as likely to develop a disability
The law expressly states that the definition of disability is intended to be interpreted more broadly than the definition of disability under the ...