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



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


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.