What Does the Law Say?
Where is the law regarding sex discrimination in employment in Maine found?
Sex discrimination in Maine is governed by the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA), 5 M.R.S.A § 4572.
To whom does the MHRA apply?
The MHRA applies to all employers, as well as labor organizations and employment agencies. Unlike some states, there is no minimum number of employees an employer must have. However, non-profit religious and non-profit fraternal organizations are exempted from this statute for the purposes of sex discrimination.
An "employee" is defined as any individual employed by an employer, unless they are employed by their parent, spouse, or child.
What does the MHRA make illegal?
Generally, the MHRA makes it illegal to treat women differently than men in employment, except when based on a "bona fide occupational qualification." This is explained in further detail in the sections under "What kind of discrimination does the law cover?" There are several different forms of employment discrimination. See "What kind of discrimination does the law cover?" for more information.
Is there a benefit in pursuing a claim under Maine law as opposed to federal law?
Yes. Federal law only applies to employers with 15 or more employees, where Maine law has no minimum requirement. Many women choose to pursue their claims under both federal and state law.
Is it ever okay to treat women differently?
Yes, when based on a "bona fide occupational qualification." This is explained in further detail in the sections under "What kind of discrimination does the law cover?"
Who enforces the law?
The Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) is responsible for resolving disputes and enforcing the provisions of the MHRA. For a further explanation of what the MHRC does, see the "Filing Procedures" section.
Does it matter when the discrimination occurred? What can I get if I win?
Yes. For purposes of filing a claim, determining when the discrimination occurred is important. For more information about filing and remedies, please see the "Filing Procedures" and "Remedies" sections.
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