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  • Caitlin DeLuca

The Maine Legislature passes new worker protections

In Maine, far too many labor violations go unreported. Even when workers do report their employers for a violation, the state agencies that oversee these complaints are often lacking the capacity to manage them.

Maine workers deserve recourse against workplace violations, but right now, bad employers hold all the power. The good news is, that’s about to change.

LD 1711, “An Act To Enhance Enforcement of Employment Laws,” passed through the Maine Legislature. Introduced by Senate President Troy Jackson, this bill will expand who whistleblowers can turn to when they have allegations of workplace or employer misconduct. If the state declines to take up the matter, for capacity reasons or otherwise, this gives workers the ability to proceed with a case using a private attorney designated by the state.

This bill not only helps to clear the way for whistleblowers to come forward, it also will provide them the ability to circumvent forced arbitration agreements. These agreements prevent workers from going to the courts if they believe their rights have been violated in some way.

Forced arbitration agreements are becoming more common, with many larger corporations forcing workers to sign these upon their employment. Oftentimes, employees aren’t even sure of what they are signing – believing the paperwork is part of a typical onboarding process.

The state agencies that usually take up these cases aren’t bound by these abusive agreements. LD 1711 ensures that private attornies representing whistleblowers won’t be, either.

Maine has some of the hardest working people in the country, and they deserve to know that, should they ever feel unsafe or abused in their workplace, that they can seek help and get support.

We’re grateful for Senate President Jackson and the Maine State Legislature’s leadership in expanding whistleblower protections! LD 1711 now heads to Governor Mills’ desk to be signed into law, vetoed, or to go into effect without her signature.

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