Responsible employers provide safe work environments for employees by implementing injury-prevention measures and training that neutralizes on-the-job harassment.
With increased attention over the past few years surrounding sexual harassment, specifically, state governments are exploring laws that further protect employees. Maine was the first state (1991) to create laws requiring sexual harassment training, and the state is currently one of only six that mandates sexual harassment training for employers.
Maine Takes a Clear Stance
Maine requires all employers to post, in a prominent and accessible workplace location, a poster with the following information:
- The illegality of sexual harassment
- A description of sexual harassment, utilizing examples
- The complaint process available through the Maine Human Rights Commission
- Directions on how to contact the Maine Human Rights Commission
An example of an acceptable poster is available on the MHRC website.
Employers of all sizes are also required to provide employees with an annual notice that includes the bulleted information above and the process for filing a complaint and protection against retaliation.
Maine statute requires the notice to be delivered “in a manner to ensure notice to all employees without exception, such as including the notice with an employee’s pay.” The MHRC website includes detailed information employers could include in their annual notices and posters.
[Callout] “Any behavior of a sexual nature in the workplace is considered unprofessional regardless of whether it constitutes illegal sexual harassment. Such unprofessional conduct will not be tolerated in the workplace because it undermines morale, interferes with performance and demeans its victims. Each employee is personally responsible for compliance with this policy.” -- Office of the Maine Attorney General
Employers with 15 or more employees must provide training within one year of hiring a new employee. Courses must provide training on the same topics covered within the mandatory poster and annual employee notice:
- Explanation of the unlawfulness of sexual harassment
- Definitions and descriptions of sexual harassment as defined by Maine law
- Examples of sexual harassment
- Explanation of your internal complaint process for employees
- Complaint process and legal recourse through the MHRC, as well as how to contact the MHRC
- Protection against retaliation
In addition, supervisors and managers must receive additional training that includes their specific responsibilities and the appropriate way to address complaints. Supervisors must receive this additional training within a year of taking on supervisory responsibilities.
Failure to Comply Could Lead to Fines
In addition to posters, annual notices and ongoing training, Maine requires businesses to keep records of all required training for employees. Records must be maintained for at least three years and be available for inspection if requested by the state Department of Labor. Noncompliant employers may be assessed the following fines:
- First violation: Up to $25 per day, not to exceed $1,000.
- Second violation: If occurring within three years of a previous violation, the fine is up to $50 per day, not to exceed $2,500.
- Third or subsequent violation: If occurring within three years of two or more prior violations, a fine of up to $100 per day, not to exceed $5,000.