At the end of the recent session, the Maine Legislature passed L.D. 921, and it has been chaptered into law as 2015 Public Law Chapter 343. This legislation makes two important changes to employment laws that affect all Maine employers, including nonprofit organizations of any size. There’s just one little catch. This bill is caught up in the dispute between the Legislature and the Governor about whether he can still exercise a veto. I expect the Maine Supreme Court to side with the Legislature, in which case this law will become effective on October 14.
The first part of the law increases penalties for employers that fail to comply with already existing law (see 26 M.R.S. § 850) that requires an employer to grant reasonable and necessary leave from work to employees who are victims of violence, stalking, and other acts that would support a court order for protection. The Maine Department of Labor will be able to fine noncompliant employers up to $1,000 per occurrence, above the current $200 ceiling, and the employer must also pay damages of three times the fine. Moreover, if the employee is terminated in connection with exercising his rights under this law, he or she can demand re-employment and back wages.
The second part of the law has a more widespread day-to-day application, because it places strict limits on an employer’s ability to demand or even request access to an employee’s (or applicant’s) social media accounts. Social media accounts are defined broadly to include e-mail, videos, blogs, texts, and websites. But the law does not apply to those accounts set up at an employer’s behest, such as a workplace e-mail account. In summary, an employer cannot demand or request passwords or other access to any social media accounts, and cannot make employment decisions based on an employee or applicant’s refusal to provide such access. Nonprofit organizations should review their personnel policies to ensure consistency with this new law, assuming it does indeed go into effect.
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Location: Fireside Inn & Suites, Portland
Sponsor: National Business Institute
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