Maine Sex Discrimination laws & HR compliance analysis

Maine Sex Discrimination: What you need to know

The Maine Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sex (including pregnancy and related medical conditions) and sexual orientation (ME Rev. Stat. Tit. 5 Sec. 4572-A). The Act covers all employers in the state, out-of-state employers with employees working in the state, employment agencies, and labor unions (ME Rev. Stat. Tit. 5 Sec. 4551 et seq.).
The term "sexual orientation" means a person's actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, gender identity, or gender expression (ME Admin. CMR 94-348-003).
The Maine Supreme Court has ruled that evidence of an adverse employment action occurring shortly after an employer learned of an employee's sexual orientation was sufficient to allow the former employee to proceed to trial with her discrimination case (Cookson v. Brewer Sch. Dep't., 974 A.2d 276 (Maine 2009)). In this case, the former employee presented evidence that her contract was not renewed for a position as a head softball coach because of her sexual orientation. The employee had been successfully rehired each school year for 13 years. The employer argued that it had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for not rehiring the employee, including hazing incidents. However, the employee provided evidence that the superintendent shifted his position after learning of her sexual orientation. Initially, the superintendent assured the employee that she would not be asked to resign, but he declined to recommend her for rehire shortly after learning of her sexual orientation. The court concluded that the employee provided sufficient evidence that the legitimate reasons cited by the employer were a pretext for discrimination.
The Maine Supreme Court upheld a jury award in favor ...

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