A wrongful termination in Maine occurs when an employer illegally fires an employee. Being wrongfully dismissed by an employer can cause financial and career-related difficulties for the worker. But Maine and federal employment laws protect workers from different types of illegal terminations.
Wrongfully terminated workers can file a claim against a former employer if they believe their dismissal was against federal or state employment laws. Learning what is a wrongful termination in ME can be important for workers before starting the claim process. And workers who experienced unlawful termination can review their rights before starting a case.
For more information on how to handle being wrongfully fired in ME, we’ve provided the helpful information below:
- Types of Illegal termination in Maine
- Types of Legal Termination in Maine
- At-Will Employment Exceptions in Maine
- Filing a Discrimination Charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Maine
- Filing a Lawsuit Against Your Employer in Maine
Maine Unemployment Resources
Types of Illegal Termination in Maine
Illegal terminations in Maine violate national equal employment laws, and wrongfully dismissed employees can challenge employers that break federal or state laws. These types of illegal termination of employment include discrimination against employees’:
- Age (older than 40 years of age).
- Ethnicity, race or color.
- National orientation.
- Physical and mental disabilities.
- Religious beliefs.
- Sexual orientation, gender identity and pregnancy.
- Veteran and military status.
Other types of illegal terminations include firing employees for “whistleblowing” – reporting a company’s illegal practices to the government. Maine’s Family Medical Leave Requirement (FMLR) also protects employees from being fired for taking medical leave for their or a family member’s health. Similarly, employers cannot fire employees for responding to a summons for jury duty.
Maine also considers other termination reasons illegal. For instance, an employer cannot fire an employee for refusing to do something illegal or unsafe. Likewise, employers cannot terminate an employee based on retaliation, including filing for workers’ compensation.
Employees wrongfully fired from jobs in Maine may choose to seek action against a former employer. If one of these types of unlawful terminations applies to a worker’s case, they may have pinpointed a cause of action to file a lawsuit against their previous employer.
Types of Legal Termination in Maine
Although companies can fire their employees, they must do so within the limits of the law. The types of legal termination in Maine may seem unfair to employees, but they are not against the law and cannot be pursued. Some types of legal dismissal of employment include:
- Employee layoffs due to downsizing.
- Misconduct, like breaking company policy.
- Poor performance.
- The closing of a business.
- The end of a contract.
For example, an employer can fire an employee for refusing to take or failing a drug test.
Reviewing the legal reasons for terminating employees in Maine can help a worker to determine if there is a valid wrongful termination. The various types of legal firings must be reviewed before a terminated employee takes steps to sue a former employer.
In some cases, such as company closing and layoffs, former workers may have other options. Unemployment insurance in Maine may be available to out-of-work individuals who lost their job due to no fault of their own.
At-Will Employment Exceptions in Maine
What is employment at will? At-will employment is a federal policy acknowledging that the employer and employee enter into a working arrangement “at will” and can end the arrangement also “at will.”
At-will employment or employment-at-will means employees are free to quit their job, but it also means that employers are free to terminate their employees’ employment for any legal reason.
Maine is an at-will state that only recognizes the implied-contract exception, which is the allowance of firing an employee when there is no active contract in place.
Filing a Discrimination Charge With the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Maine
Wrongfully terminated employees who want to file a wrongful termination discrimination or retaliation charge can do so with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Filing a charge of discrimination or retaliation in Maine must be done within 180 days of termination or 300 days for an age discrimination case.
The EEOC can help workers learn how to file a charge of employment discrimination in ME. Generally, a discriminatory termination charge may be filed with the EEOC in person at a local office, by phone, by mail or online.
During the process to file an employment discrimination charge, the EEOC will contact the accused employer to gather detailed information for their determination. The questioning of both the claimant and employer must be done within 20 days. The EEOC can subpoena an uncooperative employer.
After questioning, the EEOC may offer several outcomes, including:
- Rejecting the claim due to lack of evidence or failure to meet the deadline.
- Attempting to settle the claim by:
- Suggesting a mediation program between the former employee and employer to settle the case out of court within after approximately three months.
- Attempting a voluntary settlement on the employee’s behalf with their previous employer.
If a voluntary settlement is pursued, it can take an average of 10 months to settle through the EEOC. If a settlement cannot be reached or if the EEOC cannot determine that a law has been broken, the EEOC may give the employee a Notice of Right to Sue their previous employer in a court of law. An employee cannot file a lawsuit until after the EEOC grants the Notice of Right to Sue.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Your Employer in Maine
The process to file a lawsuit against employers for wrongful termination requires employees to obtain the Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC. When suing for wrongful termination in Maine, it is the claimant’s responsibility to prove that a wrongful termination occurred.
Employees will need to gather evidence that proves the former employer’s unlawful action and gives them cause of action, such as:
- Documentation of interactions.
- Written testimonials from coworkers or other employees.
Researching federal and state laws that pertain to the employee’s situation can help when forming legal arguments and fair compensation demands. Some workers consult with legal aid, such as a lawyer, which can make filing a lawsuit and gathering evidence easier.
Last Updated: October 19, 2022