Enhance the Administration of the Maine Human Rights Act

Last updated: Jul 3, 2019

Details about this bill
Category: Wage and Labor
Status: Passed
Sponsor: Representative Donna Bailey, House 14
Session: 129
Bill #: LD 1702

Position:

Monitoring.

UPDATE 6-23-19: Governor Mills has signed this bill into law. New chaptered law is here.

Summary:

This bill amends the Maine Human Rights Act so as to make more efficient the processing and investigation of complaints. The bill:

1. Specifies that the Act must be construed to provide broad protection from discrimination; that it may not be construed to provide less coverage than the federal law; and that the interpretation of the Act by the Maine Human Rights Commission is entitled to deference by the court;

2. Authorizes the executive director of the commission to appoint or hire additional necessary personnel subject to the Civil Service Law;

3. Replaces certain references to the enumerated potential bases for discrimination with references to "protected class characteristics, membership or status";

4. Specifies that funds received by the commission for the purpose of implementing a 3rd-party neutral mediation program are not subject to any statewide cost allocation plan;

5. Designates as confidential certain information that is collected during the investigation of a complaint under the Act and exempts such information from the definition of "public record" for purposes of the Freedom of Access Act;

6. Authorizes the executive director of the commission to administratively dismiss a complaint brought under the Act for specified reasons;

7. Provides that any post-finding conciliation agreement that includes the commission as a signatory is a public record;

8. Authorizes the executive director to issue a right-to-sue letter in any case in which the commission has not filed a civil action in the case or has not entered into a conciliation agreement in the case within 180 days of the complaint being filed, whether or not such a letter has been requested by the complainant; and

9. Prohibits the awarding of attorney's fees and costs to the commission and specifies that the commission is not liable to pay attorney's fees and costs of another party.