Employment Law & Civil Rights
- Employment Discrimination
- Unemployment Compensation
- Civil Rights
- Wage and Hour Claims
- Employment Advice
- Government Fraud Claims
Many people assume that if something has happened to them at work that was unfair, they have the right to go to court and get it corrected. This is not true. In Maine, the rule of thumb is “employment at will,” meaning that an employer can fire or discipline an employee with no good reason. The only exceptions are when the employer’s action is based on protected characteristics such as age, sex, race, religion, or disability. We can assist employees in determining whether or not their claims are covered by the Civil Rights Acts and, if so, what action to take. We can also assist employers by advising them on how to avoid complaints and minimize the risk of litigation and on whether disciplinary actions which have been taken were illegal and, if so, what can be done about it.
For employers: An employee at my business just hurt themselves outside of work and wants to come back even though we think he’s still injured – what can we do if we don’t think he’s ready to return? An employee got hurt at work and needs a leave of absence and we don’t know if she gets workers’ comp. leave, FMLA leave, ADA leave, or all three. How can we draft a sexual harassment policy that will provide us protection and what is that Maine law requiring training that we heard about?
It is unbelievably difficult these days to navigate through the maze of state and federal laws applicable to Maine businesses. One of the services we provide to our corporate clients is regular mailings on issues of employment law facing businesses. We also defend companies and their representatives before the Maine Human Rights Commission as well as state and federal courts. Because we also represent employees, we can offer a balanced perspective, one designed to focus on achieving appropriate business solutions as opposed to running up attorneys’ fees.
For employees: What rights do I have if I am fired? I’ve been treated unfairly – what do I do? I feel that I may have been discriminated against – where do I go and what deadlines do I have to worry about? Although Maine is an at-will state (you can be fired for any reason or no reason as long as it is not an illegal reason), employees have a number of rights ranging from wage and hour protections to civil rights to employment discrimination. Employees often have limited time frames in which to exercise their rights and therefore should act quickly if they think they have an issue. Given the complexity of employment laws, our extensive background in employment law is critical to any employee seeking representation. We can offer both experience as well as humanistic, balanced, and dedicated service.
We have produced guides on sexual harassment, email policies, required VDT training, family medical leave, issues with injured and disabled employees, required postings, unemployment claims, and religious accommodation, among others. For assistance on employment-related issues, you should contact Sonia J. Buck.