The following changes to Maine employment law apply to employers of all sizes and become effective on October 25, 2023.
Limitations on Captive Audience Meetings
Employers can’t take, or threaten to take, any adverse action against an employee for declining to attend or participate in an employer-sponsored meeting that expresses the employer’s opinion on religious or political matters. The same applies to an employee who declines to receive or listen to communications that convey the employer’s views on religious or political matters. Certain religious employers are exempt.
Matters are defined as religious if they relate to religious belief, affiliation, practice, or the decision to join or support a religious organization or association. Matters are considered political if they relate to any of the following:
- Elections for political office
- Political parties
- Proposals to change legislation, regulations, or public policy
- The decision to join or support any political party or political, civic, community, fraternal, or labor organization
Notably, this law prevents employers from coercing employees to attend “captive audience meetings” where the employer presents their views on unionization or labor organizing. It doesn’t apply to meetings or communications that are strictly voluntary, necessary for employees to perform their job duties, or communications that are required by law.
Employers are required to post a notice to employees about these rights within 30 days of the law becoming effective. The law doesn’t say whether the state will create a sample notice, but you may want to check Maine’s Labor Posters website for one closer to November 24.
- Allow employees to opt out of any meeting or communication covered by this law
- Post the required notice where other employee notices are displayed by November 24, 2023
Expansion of Pay Equity Law to Cover Race
Maine’s pay equity law has been expanded to prohibit differences in pay based on race (in addition to sex, which was already covered). Employers should take a close look at employees in the same establishment who are doing comparable work that requires similar skill, effort, and responsibility, and ensure that any pay differences have an allowable explanation. Seniority, merit, and shift or time of day worked remain acceptable reasons for a pay differential. If you’ve never done a pay equity audit, now may be the time.