Maine News & Analysis

  • Policy or preference? When the distinction makes a difference

    Every employer has a set of policies it likes its employees to follow. Workplace policies can cover topics such as how tasks are completed, how employees request time off, and the qualifications necessary to perform certain aspects of a job. But formal written policies aren't the only things dictating how a workplace runs. Often, managers and supervisors have informal practices and preferences that may be equally important to the work environment.

  • Maine adopts significant new pay equity legislation

    Sex discrimination with regard to pay has been illegal at the federal level for decades under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act. There's a similar prohibition on sex-based pay discrimination in Maine. Despite the existence of such measures, the pay gap remains real, and states continue to pass new laws to address it. Employers should be aware of one such law recently passed in Maine.

  • DOL says FMLA leave mandatory for employees and employers

    After more than 25 years, you might think questions regarding proper interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would be settled. It's a highly regulated law, and it provides employers far more detail and clarity than they get with most other labor and employment laws.

  • Tips to ensure you are prepared for a deposition

    For an HR professional, giving a deposition is a lot like visiting the dentist. You know it's necessary, but you probably aren't looking forward to it. You may be asked questions you don't want to answer (like how often you actually floss). And finally, consistently responsible practices should reduce your stress levels about the event, make it go a lot smoother, and prevent worse problems in the future.

  • Employees aren't disabled under ADA just because they say so

    Since the amended Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect back in 2009, employers and their lawyers have rarely considered whether an employee is actually "disabled" when asked about workplace accommodations. Nearly 10 years later, the trend prevails. Employers rarely question whether a medical condition is actually disabling under the ADA. Instead, they typically dive right into the interactive dialogue, hoping to find a workable accommodation and avoid costly and burdensome litigation. But it's important to remember that the ADA still requires employees to show they have a qualifying disability. In a recent decision, the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Maine employers) made clear that the requirement still has meaning.

  • Hiring seasonal employees raises benefits questions

    Q We are looking to hire seasonal employees, preferably students, to work for 90 to 120 days. They will work 40 hours per week. What benefits must we provide?

  • Union Activity

    AFL-CIO calls proposed overtime rule a setback for working people. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke out in March against the Trump administration's proposed rule to set a new salary threshold for employees eligible for overtime pay. The administration's proposed rule would require that employees make at least $35,308 a year to be exempt from overtime eligibility under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Exempt workers also must perform work that is executive, administrative, or professional in nature. The Obama administration had proposed a rule setting the threshold at $47,476 a year, but the proposal was struck down by a federal judge. "Lowering the threshold ignores the economic hardships faced by millions of working families," Trumka said. "This disappointing announcement is part of a growing list of policies from the Trump administration aimed at undermining the economic stability of America's working people."

  • Using independent contractors doesn't avoid MHRA discrimination liability

    Today's business environment relies more than ever on contractors. For example, rather than employing its own cleaning or IT staff, a small business might choose to outsource work to a third party. Another example lies in health and wellness—a large business might contract with a healthcare services company to provide on-site doctors and nurses for its employees. This model has benefits for both the contracting party and the contractor.

  • Maine case examines definition of disability

    It's not always simple for an employer to recognize if an employee is disabled. Moreover, her disability may not always be something the employer sees as connected to her job. A recent case from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine serves as a good reminder that when one examines the statutory definition of "disability," many conditions may qualify.

  • Legislative update: Maine minimum wage—a flurry of new proposals

    Maine employers should keep their eyes on the legislature. In the latest session, no less than seven bills have been proposed that would affect the minimum wage in some way. Although the prospects for passage of any of the bills is unclear, the number of bills introduced means now is a good time to refresh yourselves on what the current law requires and be aware of what may be on the horizon.