PROPOSED/ADOPTED CHANGES


Proposed amendments to Chapter 2: Procedural Rule; and Chapter 3, Employment Regulations of the MHRC

Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 4566(7), the Maine Human Rights Commission is proposing amendments to Chapter 2: Procedural Rule; and Chapter 3, Employment Regulations of the MHRC. The proposed changes to Chapter 2 will allow parties to complaints to pay for mediations conducted through the Commission’s Third-Party Neutral Mediation Program. The proposed changes to Chapter 3 completely repeal and replace the Rule. The changes update the Rule to include the employment provisions of the Maine Human Rights Act and provisions in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The intent of the new Rule is to have all of the Maine Human Rights Act employment requirements contained in a single document, and to create consistency between state and federal requirements where the underlying statutory provisions are substantively the same. A public hearing on these rules has been set for Monday, November 4, 2013, at 2:00 P.M., at the Maine Human Rights Commission, Ground Floor Conference Room, 19 Union Street, Augusta, Maine. Oral or written testimony on the proposed rules will be received at that time. Written testimony and comments will be accepted at the Commission’s office until November 14, 2013. A copy of the proposed rules that are being amended is available below or may be obtained by contacting this office at 624-6290. A version of the proposed changes to Chapter 3, with comments, is also available below, as well as a version of the federal regulations that are being incorporated, with comments. Specific questions should be addressed to Amy M. Sneirson, Executive Director, Amy.Sneirson@maine.gov, or Barbara Archer Hirsch, Commission Counsel, Barbara.ArcherHirsch@maine.gov.

icon Proposed Rule Chapters, 2 & 3 (PDF)       icon Chapter 3 - with comments (PDF)       icon EEOC religion regulations (PDF)     icon EEOC national origin regulations (PDF)       
icon EEOC age regulations (PDF)       icon EEOC sex regulations (PDF)      icon EEOC ADA regulations (PDF)


Amended Rules: Effective August 7, 2013

Effective August 7, 2013, the Maine Human Rights Commission has adopted amendments to Chapter 2:  Procedural Rule; and Chapter 8, Housing Regulations of the MHRC.  The amendments primarily implement statutory changes to the housing provisions of the Maine Human Rights Act, which took effect on September 1, 2012.  The changes include the addition of “aggrieved person” as a person protected; adding bankruptcy as a basis for administrative dismissal of a complaint by the Executive Director; requiring the Commission to file a complaint in court in “reasonable grounds” cases that do not conciliate that are subject to the Commission’s worksharing agreement with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development; defining the scope of permissible complaints against small housing providers; and updating and consolidating the accessible design and construction standards for multifamily and public housing.  Most of the changes ensure that the Maine Human Rights Act is “substantially equivalent” with the federal Fair Housing Act.  The adopted rule changes (in legislative and clean text format) and the basis statement may be viewed below:

iconAdopted Rule Amendment Chapters, 2, and 8 (PDF) - legislative format

iconAdopted Rule Amendment Chapters, 2, and 8 (PDF) - clean text format

 

Proposed Rule Amendment

Pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. § 4566(7), the Maine Human Rights Commission is proposing amendments to Chapter 2:  Procedural Rule; and Chapter 8, Housing Regulations of the MHRC.  The proposed amendments primarily implement statutory changes to the housing provisions of the Maine Human Rights Act, which took effect on September 1, 2012.  The changes include the addition of “aggrieved person” as a person protected; adding bankruptcy as a basis for administrative dismissal of a complaint by the Executive Director; requiring the Commission to file a complaint in court in “reasonable grounds” cases that do not conciliate that are subject to the Commission’s worksharing agreement with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development; defining the scope of permissible complaints against small housing providers; and updating and consolidating the accessible design and construction standards for multifamily and public housing.  Most of the changes ensure that the Maine Human Rights Act is “substantially equivalent” with the federal Fair Housing Act.  A public hearing on these rules has been set for Monday, February 25, 2013, at 12:00 P.M., at the Maine Human Rights Commission, Ground Floor Conference Room, 19 Union Street, Augusta, Maine.  Oral or written testimony on the proposed rules will be received at that time. Written testimony and comments will be accepted at the Commission’s office until March 7, 2013.  A copy of the proposed rules that are being amended is available below or may be obtained by contacting this office at 624-6290. Specific questions should be addressed to John P. Gause, Commission Counsel, John.P.Gause@Maine.gov.

iconProposed Rule Amendment Chapters, 2, and 8 (PDF) - legislative format

AMENDED RULES: Effective November 26, 2012

Effective November 26, 2012, the Commission has adopted amendments to Chapter 2:  Procedural Rule; Chapter 6: Accessibility Requirements for Public Accommodations and Places of Employment; and Chapter 7, Accessibility Regulations of the MHRC.  The amendments to Chapter 2 change the term “Compliance Officer” to “Compliance Manager,” which is necessitated by a staffing change, and provide for the adoption of a third-party-neutral mediation program.  The amendments to Chapter 7 incorporate the new accessible design standards in the Maine Human Rights Act, 5 M.R.S. §4594-G, compliance with which became mandatory on March 15, 2012; the new MHRA definition of “service animal” in public accommodations, which took effect September 28, 2011; and the revised federal Department of Justice regulations interpreting Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (covering nondiscrimination by “public accommodations”), which went into effect on March 15, 2011 with 2010 Standards for Accessible Design that became mandatory on March 15, 2012.  Chapter 6 has been repealed because it contained outdated (pre-1996) accessible building standards.  The adopted rule changes (in legislative and clean text format) and the basis statement may be viewed below:

iconAdopted Rule Changes Chapters, 2, 6, 7 (PDF) - legislative format

iconAdopted Rule Changes Chapters 2, 6, 7 (PDF) - clean text

AMENDED EDUCATION PROCEDURAL RULES: Effective September 12, 2012

Effective September 12, 2012, the Commission and the Department of Education have adopted revisions to Chapter 4-A: Procedural Rule: Equal Educational Opportunity. The revisions change the term “Compliance Officer” to “Compliance Manager,” which was necessitated by a staffing change; provide for the adoption of a third-party neutral mediation program; and add “public charter schools” to the definition of “public school.” The adopted rule changes (in legislative and clean text format) and the basis statement may be viewed below:

iconAdopted Rule Changes Chapter 4-A (PDF) - legislative format

iconAdopted Rule Changes Chapters 4-A (PDF) - clean text

 

Proposed Rule Amendment

Pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. § 4566(7), the Maine Human Rights Commission is proposing amendments to Chapter 2:  Procedural Rule; Chapter 4-A:  Procedural Rule:  Equal Educational Opportunity; Chapter 6: Accessibility Requirements for Public Accommodations and Places of Employment; and Chapter 7, Accessibility Regulations of the MHRC.  The proposed changes to Chapter 4-A are made jointly with the Maine Department of Education, pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. § 4603.  The proposed amendments to Chapters 2 and 4-A change the term “Compliance Officer” to “Compliance Manager,” which is necessitated by a staffing change; provide for the adoption of a third-party neutral mediation program; and add “public charter schools” to the definition of “public school.”  The proposed amendments to Chapter 7 incorporate the new accessible design standards in the Maine Human Rights Act, 5 M.R.S. §4594-G, compliance with which became mandatory on March 15, 2012; the new MHRA definition of “service animal” in public accommodations, which took effect September 28, 2011; and the revised federal Department of Justice regulations interpreting Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (covering nondiscrimination by “public accommodations”), which went into effect on March 15, 2011 with 2010 Standards for Accessible Design that became mandatory on March 15, 2012.  Chapter 6 is being repealed because it contains outdated (pre-1996) accessible building standards.  A public hearing on these rules has been set for Monday, June 25, 2012, at 1:00 P.M., at the Maine Human Rights Commission, 1st Floor Conference Room, 19 Union Street, Augusta, Maine. Oral or written testimony on the proposed rules will be received at that time. Written testimony and comments will be accepted at the Commission’s office until July 5, 2012. A copy of the section of the rules that are being amended is available below or may be obtained by contacting this office at 624-6290. Specific questions should be addressed to John P. Gause, Commission Counsel, John.P.Gause@Maine.gov, or Susan Corrente, Legal Counsel, Maine Department of Education, Susan.Corrente@Maine.gov.

iconProposed Rule Chapter 4-A (PDF)

iconProposed Rule Chapters 2, 6, 7 (PDF)


AMENDMENTS TO THE HOUSING LAW:  Effective September 1, 2012

Various housing provisions of the Maine Human Rights Act have been amended, effective September 1, 2012.  The changes include the addition of “aggrieved person” as a person protected; updating and consolidating the accessible building standards; prohibiting discriminatory advertisements and statements by small housing providers that are otherwise exempt; making the Commission process entirely optional in housing cases that are also covered by federal Fair Housing Act; requiring the Commission to file a complaint in court in “reasonable grounds” cases that do not conciliate that are subject to the Commission’s worksharing agreement with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development; and allowing the recovery of punitive damages in housing cases.  Most of the changes ensure that the Maine Human Rights Act is “substantially equivalent” with the federal Fair Housing Act.  Below is a link to Public Law 613, 125th Maine Legislature.

iconPublic Law 613 (PDF)

NEW DEFINITION OF SERVICE ANIMALS: Effective September 28, 2011

Effective September 28, 2011, the Maine Human Rights Act has been amended to include a new definition of “service animal” applicable to the use of service animals in places of public accommodation. The new definition limits “service animals” to dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. A copy of Public Law 369, 125th Maine Legislature, which contains the new definition, can be viewed by clicking the link below. In light of the new definition, the Commission will be amending Chapter 7: Accessibility Regulations of the MHRC and will be issuing new guidance covering service animals in public accommodations. The existing guidance, entitled “Service Animals in Housing and Public Accommodations,” has been withdrawn and replaced by a guidance document entitled “Service Animals in Housing,” which can be viewed in the “Guidance” section of this website.

iconPublic Law 369 (PDF)

NEW GUIDANCE COVERING SERVICE ANIMALS IN HOUSING: Effective September 28, 2011

Effective September 28, 2011, the Maine Human Rights Commission has issued new guidance, entitled “Service Animals in Housing.” The new guidance, which can be viewed by clicking the link below, is similar to the Commission’s former guidance, entitled “Service Animals in Housing and Public Accommodations,” but the new guidance is only applicable to housing. The former guidance has been withdrawn in light of a new definition of “service animal,” applicable only to places of public accommodation, that was added to the Maine Human Rights Act this past legislative session. The Commission will be issuing new guidance applicable to service animals in public accommodations at a later time.

iconService Animals in Hosing (PDF)

NEW ACCESSIBLE BUILDING STANDARDS: Effective September 28, 2011

Effective September 28, 2011, the Maine Human Rights Act has new accessible building standards for new or altered transportation facilities, places of public accommodation and commercial facilities and facilities constructed or altered by, on behalf of or for the use of a public entity. The new standards are contained in section 8 of Public Law 322, 125th Maine Legislature, which may be viewed by clicking the link below. Between September 28, 2011 and March 15, 2012, new construction and alterations to covered facilities may comply with either the previously existing standards in the Maine Human Rights Act or these new standards. After March 15, 2012, the new standards become mandatory and fully replace the previously existing standards. In light of the new standards, the Commission will be amending Chapter 7: Accessibility Regulations of the MHRC.

iconPublic Law 323 (PDF)

 

CONSENT DECREE ENTERED IN INTERPRETER CASE

On September 7, 2011, Chief United States District Court Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr., signed an Amended Consent Decree in 1:09-cv-466, Maine Human Rights Commission and Shirley Carney v. Sunbury Primary Care, P.A. In the complaint, plaintiffs alleged that Sunbury denied Ms. Carney, who is deaf, with an interpreter for a treatment visit and was likely to deny other patients who are deaf with interpreters. Sunbury denied any unlawful discrimination. Pursuant to the Decree, which fully resolves the Commission's complaint, Sunbury agreed to implement a policy to "provide any current or future Sunbury patient who is deaf with a qualified interpreter, upon request of the patient, for any visit that is likely to involve interactive communication between the hearing impaired patient and a Sunbury provider regarding a substantive medical issue." The Decree also enjoins Sunbury from violating the auxiliary aids and services provision of the Maine Human Rights Act for hearing impaired patients and awards $7500 to Ms. Carney. The Decree remains in effect for three years, other than its continuing nature as an order within the meaning of 5 M.R.S.A. §4613(2)(B)(7). Ms. Carney separately resolved her claims against Sunbury.

iconAmended Consent Decree (PDF)

The claims and facts of the case, as detailed in Judge Woodcock’s decision on various motions, can be viewed here: : http://www.med.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Woodcock/2011/JAW_03142011_1-09cv466_MHRC_V_SUNBURY (PDF)

 

NEW PROCEDURAL RULES: Effective February 8, 2010

The Commission has adopted revisions to its procedural rules, CHAPTER 2: PROCEDURAL RULE; CHAPTER 4-A: PROCEDURAL RULE: EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY; and CHAPTER 9: HOUSING PROCEDURAL RULE. The adopted changes to CHAPTER 4-A were made jointly with the Maine Department of Education, pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. § 4603. These amendments changed to the Commission’s procedural rules to implement new statutory provisions as well as comply with the Commission’s worksharing agreements with its federal partners; combine the housing procedural rule with the general procedural rule, thereby deleting the former housing rule; create greater consistency between the education procedural rule and the Commission’s general procedural rule; add provisions on advisory rulings; and clarify the roles of Commission staff. The adopted rule changes (in legislative and clean text format) and the basis statement may be viewed below:

iconChapter 2 & 9 (PDF)

iconChapter 2 & 9 Legislative (PDF)

iconChapter 4-A (PDF)

iconChapter 4-A Legislative (PDF)

 

Proposed Rule Amendment

Pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. § 4566(7), the Maine Human Rights
Commission is proposing amendments to its procedural rules,
CHAPTER 2:  PROCEDURAL RULE; CHAPTER 4-A: 
PROCEDURAL RULE: EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY;
and CHAPTER 9:  HOUSING PROCEDURAL RULE. 
The proposed changes to CHAPTER 4-A are made jointly with the Maine Department of Education, pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. § 4603.These amendments would make changes to the Commission’s procedural rules to implement new statutory provisions as well as comply with the Commission’s worksharing agreements with its federal partners; combine the housing procedural rule with the general procedural rule; create greater consistency between the education procedural rule and the Commission’s general procedural rule; add provisions on advisory rulings; and clarify the roles of Commission staff.A public hearing on these rules has been set for Monday, December 7, 2009, at 1:00 P.M., at the Senator Inn and Conference Center, Embassy Room, 284 Western Ave, Augusta, ME.  Oral or written testimony on the proposed rules will be received at that time.  Written testimony and comments will be accepted at the Commission’s office until December 17, 2009. A copy of the section of the rules that are being amended is available below or may be obtained by contacting this office at 624-6290. Specific questions should be addressed to John P. Gause, Commission Counsel, John.P.Gause@Maine.gov, or Susan Corrente, Legal Counsel, Maine Department of Education, Susan.Corrente@Maine.gov.

icon Chapter 2 & 9(PDF)

icon Chapter 4-A (PDF)

 

New Filing Deadlines: Effective September 12, 2009:

The filing deadlines under the Maine Human Rights Act have been amended, effective September 12, 2009. The time to file a complaint with the Commission has been enlarged from 6 months to 300 days after the alleged act of discrimination. The two-year statute of limitations for filing a court action has also been changed. Under the new law, complainants have the greater of either 2 years after the act of alleged discrimination or 90 days from from a dismissal, right-to-sue letter, or failed conciliation. The Commission has two years to complete its investigation under section 4612(1)(B). The new law, known as PL 235, can be viewed here:  

icon PL 235 (PDF)

icon PL 235 Timeline (PDF)


NEW SERVICE ANIMAL RULES: Effective November 19, 2008

The Commission amended its housing and public accommodations regulations covering “service animals” in Chapter 7:   Accessibility Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission; and Chapter 8:   Housing Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission.   The amendments conform the Commission’s rules to the changes to the Maine Human Rights Act created by Public Law, Chapter 664, 123 rd Maine State Legislature.   The new statutory provisions, which were effective July 17, 2008 and can be found at 5 M.R.S.A. §§ 4553(9-D), 4592(8), and 4582-A(3), added a definition of “service animal” to the Act and address the rights of people with disabilities to use service animals in housing and places of public accommodation.   The adopted rule incorporates these changes into the Commission’s housing and public accommodations regulations. The adopted rule and basis statement may be viewed below.

icon Basis Statement (PDF)

icon Rule (PDF)

 

NEW SERVICE ANIMAL PROVISIONS: Effective July 17, 2008

The Maine Human Rights Act has been amended to include a definition of service animal and provisions addressing service animals in housing and places of public accommodation. These changes were recommended by a task force created by L.D. 289 to evaluate Maine statutory provisions relating to service animals and propose changes. In addition to the Maine Human Rights Act amendments, the new public law includes changes applicable to dog licensing fees and the Model White Cane Law. The entire new public law, which includes the additions to the Maine Human Rights Act, may be viewed below.

iconService Animal Adopted (PDF)

PROPOSED RULE AMENDMENT

Pursuant to 5 M.R.S.A. § 4566(7), the Maine Human Rights Commission is proposing amendments covering “service animals” to its regulations, Chapter 7: Accessibility Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission; and Chapter 8: Housing Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission. The amendments are proposed to conform the Commission’s rules to the changes to the Maine Human Rights Act created by Public Law, Chapter 664, 123 rd Maine State Legislature. The new statutory provisions, which become effective July 17, 2008, add a definition of “service animal” to the Act and address the rights of people with disabilities to use service animals in housing and places of public accommodation. The proposed rule incorporates these changes into the Commission’s housing and public accommodations regulations. A public hearing on these rules will not be held unless a request for a hearing is received by the Commission from five or more interested persons.Written testimony and comments will be accepted at the Commission’s office until June 27, 2008. A copy of the section of the rules that are being amended is available below or may be obtained by contacting this office at 624-6290. Specific questions should be addressed to John P. Gause, Commission Counsel.

iconProposed Service Animal Amendment (PDF)

 

DISABILITY RULE REPEAL: Effective April 14, 2008

The Commission repealed the regulatory definition of “physical or mental disability” in Chapter 3: Employment Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission; Chapter 5: Public Accommodations Regulations Relating to Physical or Mental Disability Discrimination in Public Conveyances of the Maine Human Rights Commission; Chapter 7: Accessibility Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission; and Chapter 8: Housing Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission.  The repeal was made because the former statutory definition of “physical or mental disability” in the Maine Human Rights Act, 5 M.R.S.A. § 4553 (7-A, 7-B), which the regulatory definition interpreted, was repealed by Public Law, Chapter 385, 123rd Maine State Legislature. The new statutory definition of disability, which became effective June 21, 2007, can be found in the Maine Human Rights Act, 5 M.R.S.A. § 4553-A. The Commission is not proposing a new regulatory definition of “physical or mental disability” interpreting the new statutory definition at this time. The adopted rules may be viewed below.

 

MAINE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT AMENDMENTS: Effective September 19, 2007

The following amendments to the Maine Human Rights Act took effect September 19, 2007. These amendments correct typographical errors, clarify the protections of the Act, make certain Maine Human Rights Commission records confidential, and prohibit unreasonable housing practices that have a disparate impact on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, country of ancestral origin, familial status or the receipt of public assistance payments. The amendments, reflected in Public Law, Chapter 243, 123 rd Maine State Legislature, may be viewed below.

iconDownload a printable version (PDF)

 

NEW SEXUAL ORIENTATION RULES: Effective September 15, 2007

Effective September 15, 2007, the Commission adopted amendments to its employment and housing rules to implement the addition of “sexual orientation” to the protected classifications under the Maine Human Rights Act.  These adopted rules apply to Chapter 3:  Employment Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission and Chapter 8:  Housing Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission.  Rules addressing sexual orientation discrimination in education and places of public accommodation will be implemented at a later time. The adopted rules and basis statement may be viewed below.

iconBasis Statement and Response to Comments (PDF)

iconAdopted Changes to Rules (PDF)

 

New Definition of Disability

Effective June 21, 2007, a new definition of “physical or mental disability” was added to the Maine Human Rights Act. The new definition applies to all cases of alleged disability discrimination occurring after the law took effect. The definition replaces all prior definitions of disability under the Act, including the regulatory definition that went into effect on March 21, 2007. The new definition is set forth below.

icon Public Law 385 (PDF)

 

Adopted Amendment: Effective March 21, 2007

(NOTE: SUPERSEDED BY STATUTE)

  On December 11, 2006, the Commission voted to adopt a rule amending its regulations interpreting the definition of “physical or mental disability” under the Maine Human Rights Act.  The new rule addresses the definition of “physical or mental disability” in the context of Chapter 3: Employment Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission; Chapter 5: Public Accommodations Regulations Relating to Physical or Mental Disability Discrimination in Public Conveyances of the Maine Human Rights Commission; Chapter 7: Accessibility Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission; and Chapter 8: Housing Regulations of the Maine Human Rights Commission.

These changes went into effect on March 21, 2007. (NOTE: Effective June 21, 2007, a new definition of "physical or mental disability" was added to the Maine Human Rights Act. The new statutory definition applies to all cases of alleged disability discrimination occurring after the law took effect. The new statutory definition replaced all prior definitions of disability under the Act, including this regulatory definition.)

iconBasis Statement & Response to Comments (PDF)

iconAdopted Rule PDF)