Employment Law


Termination and Treatment of Employees In Maine

Maine does not have a law against “wrongful termination” in general. An employee in Maine who is not part of a union, doesn’t have a contract, or doesn’t work for the federal, state or local government is considered an “employee at will.” The employee is free to leave a job, in most cases, with no penalty. The other side of this equation is that employers in these instances may also terminate employment without notice or a particular reason. There is no law that requires an employer to treat an employee “fairly”.

However, a person who loses a job, or suffers a demotion, lost wages, or is not given an earned raise, promotion, or otherwise suffers any other adverse job action in violation of specific state or federal laws about other issues may be able to sue the employer to recover what was lost.

For example, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because of race, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, handicap, age, national origin, ancestry, or religion. Discrimination occurs when an employer takes action against an employee because the employee falls into one of the protected categories listed above. In order to prove a discrimination claim, the employee will have to be able to show that the employer acted due to status and not for another reason, such as performance.

State and federal statutes impose other rules on employers – under certain circumstances – such as requirements to provided family leave, military leave, severance pay, and disability accommodations; and protection of the employees’ ability to complain about conditions or workplace violations without retaliation.

If you feel you have a claim against your employer, it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. There are statutes of limitations that apply that are as short as six months, and if you wait too long, you may be unable to sue no matter how strong your case is.

Related Legal Terms

Employee At Will – an employee, who works at a job and not part of a union, that doesn’t have a contract or other restrictions

Whistleblowing – when an employee reports a reasonable belief that the employer is violating a law, rule, regulation, or safety standard. The employee may not be retaliated against for such a report.

Retaliation – when an employer takes action against an employee because he participated in an investigation, made a report, or was a witness in a proceeding

Statute of Limitations – the time limit a person has to sue an employer. For employment discrimination this time limit can be as short as six months.

Adverse Job Action – loss of pay, job or benefits or other actions that negatively affect the conditions of employment

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This is for general information only. It is not intended as legal advice.