Traliant Resources


Equal Employment Opportunity


Please review the information below and then return to the workplace harassment prevention course tab. 

Harassment and discrimination based on a protected characteristic are prohibited under both federal and state law.  The federal government and most state governments have agencies that help employers and employees understand these legal requirements and ensure compliance with the laws.

Protected Characteristics

Harassment or discrimination based on any characteristic set forth below is prohibited in Maine.


  • race 

  • color

  • national origin

  • sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity)

  • gender expression

  • disability

  • genetic information (including family medical history)

  • religion

  • age (40 and older)


  • race (including traits associated with race such as hair texture, afro hairstyles, and protective hairstyles such as braids, twists, and locks)

  • color

  • national origin

  • ancestry

  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding/lactation, and related conditions)

  • gender identity or expression

  • sexual orientation

  • age

  • disability

  • familial status

  • genetic information

  • religion or creed

  • previous assertion of a claim or right under the workers’ compensation law

  • protected activity under the Maine Whistleblowers’ Protection Act
  • having sought and received a protection order under 19-A M.R.S.A. § 4007

Important Notes

In addition to the general protected characteristics listed above, some federal, state, and/or local laws also prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of other protected statuses in certain contexts, such as:

  • citizenship status or work authorization status,

  • emergency volunteer status,

  • family relationship with a co-worker, and/or

  • status based on information contained in criminal, background, or credit reports, or being subject to wage garnishments.


Likewise, some federal, state, and/or local laws prohibit discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation for exercising certain legal rights such as:

  • participating in collective bargaining or union activities,

  • serving as a whistleblower pursuant to whistleblower laws,

  • filing a worker’s compensation or unemployment claim,

  • taking protected time off or protected leave,

  • engaging in certain off-duty activities.

For example, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person for exercising their rights under Maine’s workers’ compensation or whistleblower laws, for opposing unlawful practices, or for testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under federal or Maine law.  

Finally, under federal law and some state and/or local laws, employers may not limit or prohibit employees from using any languages in the workplace unless there is a business necessity for the restriction.

Note also that some federal, state, and/or local laws provide additional, separate standards and remedies for certain prohibited conduct, such as laws addressing equal pay without regard to sex or other protected category or specifically addressing sexual harassment prevention measures.

Applicable Laws


The primary federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination include Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, The Age Discrimination in Employment ActThe Americans With Disabilities ActThe Equal Pay ActThe Uniformed Services and Employment and Reemployment ActThe Immigration and Nationality Act, and The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court held that Title VII protects individuals from employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618 (U.S. June 15, 2020).


The primary state law that prohibits employment discrimination is the Maine Human Rights Act.

Sexual Harassment is Prohibited in Maine

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Federal and Maine law.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment;

  • submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or

  • such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim may or may not be of the opposite sex.

  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, or a co-worker,

  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.

The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome to be unlawful.

SourceMaine Human Rights Commission, Sexual Harassment on the Job is Sex Discrimination and it is Illegal

Retaliation Prohibited

Employer retaliation against an employee who files a discrimination or harassment complaint or is involved in the complaint process is unlawful.

Under Maine law, an employer may not punish or penalize an employee for:

  • exercising any right under the Maine Human Rights Act;
  • complaining about a violation of the Maine Human Rights Act; or
  • testifying in any proceeding related to a violation of the Maine Human Rights Act

How to File a Complaint in Maine

Employees may file formal complaints of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation with the agencies listed below. If you wish to pursue filing with these agencies, you should contact them directly to obtain further information about their processes and time limits.

Maine Human Rights Commission

An employment discrimination or harassment claim may be filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission (Commission) within 300 days of the date of alleged discrimination or harassment.

The Commission enforces the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA).  It also receives and investigates complaints of unlawful discrimination in employment and attempts to resolve complaints of discrimination to the mutual satisfaction of the parties involved. The Commission is a neutral agency and does not provide assistance or legal advice to any party to a complaint. The MHRA authorizes the Commission to pursue remedies for unlawful discrimination in state court when necessary to enforce the Act.  You can contact the Commission as follows:

Maine Human Rights Commission
51 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0051
Phone (207) 624-6290 | Fax (207) 624-8729 | TTY: MAINE RELAY 711 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

An employment discrimination or harassment claim against an employer with at least 15 employees may be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You may file a complaint with the Commission within 300 days of the date of alleged discrimination or harassment. To file a charge, call the EEOC or visit them online:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
1-800-669-6820 (TTY for Deaf/Hard of Hearing callers only)
1-844-234-5122 (ASL Video Phone for Deaf/Hard of Hearing callers only)

The EEOC District Office for Maine is as follows:

EEOC — Boston Area Office 
John F. Kennedy Federal Building 
Government Center, 4th Floor, Room 475 
Boston, MA 02203 
Phone: (617) 565-3200 
TTY: (617) 565-3204

Remedies for Unlawful Harassment or Discrimination

A victim of workplace harassment or discrimination may be entitled to several remedies including, but not limited to, the following:

  • cease and desist orders

  • actual damages for the injury or loss suffered by the complainant

  • hiring, reinstatement, promotion, back pay, fringe benefits

  • attorney fees and costs

  • other costs to make the complainant whole

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only.
It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.