An Act To Clarify Various Provisions of the Maine Human Rights Act
Sec. 1. 5 MRSA §4553, as amended by PL 2015, c. 457, §§1 and 2, is further amended to read:
§ 4553. Definitions
As used in this Act, unless the context or subchapter otherwise indicates, the following words have the following meanings.
For purposes of subchapter III 3, "discriminate" also includes , as it relates to individuals with physical or mental disability:
(1) That have the effect of discrimination on the basis of disability protected class status; or
(2) That perpetuate the discrimination of on the basis of protected class status by others who are subject to common administrative control;
The protections afforded against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or who is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years of age.
When a place of public accommodation is located in a private residence, the portion of the residence used exclusively as a residence is not covered by this subchapter, but that portion used exclusively in the operation of the place of public accommodation or that portion used both for the place of public accommodation and for the residential purposes is covered by this subchapter. The covered portion of the residence extends to those elements used to enter the place of public accommodation, and those exterior and interior portions of the residence available to or used by customers or clients, including rest rooms.
For purposes of subchapter III 3, "qualified individual with a disability" means an individual with a physical or mental disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that the individual holds or desires.
For purposes of subchapter V 5, "qualified individual with a disability" means an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modification to rules, policies or practices, the removal of architectural, communication or transportation barriers or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity.
"Undue hardship" or "undue burden" is a higher standard than "readily achievable" and requires a greater level of effort on the part of the public accommodation.
(1) Employment, as is more fully set forth in section 4553, subsection 4 and section 4573-A;
(2) Housing; and
(3) Educational opportunity, as is more fully set forth in section 4602, subsection 4.
Any for-profit organization owned, controlled or operated by a religious association or corporation and subject to the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 United States Code, Section 511(a) is not covered by the exemptions set forth in this paragraph . ; and
Sec. 2. 5 MRSA §4555, as enacted by PL 1995, c. 393, §10, is repealed.
Sec. 3. 5 MRSA §4573-A, sub-§1, as enacted by PL 1995, c. 393, §21, is amended to read:
Sec. 4. 5 MRSA §4573-A, sub-§1-B, as enacted by PL 1995, c. 511, §1 and affected by §3, is repealed.
Sec. 5. 5 MRSA §4592, sub-§7, ¶B, as amended by PL 2007, c. 664, §6, is further amended to read:
Sec. 6. 5 MRSA §4592, sub-§8, as amended by PL 2015, c. 457, §4, is further amended to read:
Sec. 7. 5 MRSA §4592, sub-§9 is enacted to read:
Sec. 8. 5 MRSA §4633, as enacted by PL 1993, c. 303, §3, is amended by enacting a new first paragraph to read:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act to the contrary, a person may be held liable for that person's actions taken in violation of this section, without regard to whether such person would otherwise be a covered employer, housing provider, public accommodation, educational institution or other covered entity under this Act, when the individual engages in individual and independent unlawful conduct outside the scope of the individual's actions on behalf of a covered entity.
This bill makes changes to the Maine Human Rights Act in order to clarify its proper application and interpretation. In particular, the bill describes the behaviors that may constitute harassment in reference to unlawful discrimination; clarifies the Act's coverage of claims based on association and based on the perception that an individual belongs to a protected class; and provides a definition of "gender identity." The bill provides needed clarification related to several Maine Human Rights Act provisions highlighted by recent court decisions, including confirming that a leave of absence can be a reasonable accommodation for a disability in employment, and that individual employees may be liable for their discriminatory behavior in certain circumstances. The bill also makes grammatical changes and corrects cross-references.