More New Employment-Related Legislation: Pregnancy and Noncompete Agreements

As an update to the Lunch and Learn last week, two additional pieces of legislation have been enacted.

The first, LD 666:  An Act to Protect Pregnant Workers, amends the Maine Human Rights Act to add a section requiring accommodation for pregnancy-related conditions, which is defined as a “known limitation of an employee’s ability to perform the functions of a job due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, including but not limited to lactation.” The law provides the following:  1) it clarifies that a pregnancy-related condition does not “necessarily constitute” a disability; and 2) it makes it unlawful employment discrimination for an employer, employment agency or labor organization to fail upon request to provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a pregnancy-related condition, unless it can demonstrate undue hardship; 3) it specifies that reasonable accommodations  may include, but are not limited to “providing more frequent or longer breaks; temporary modification in work schedules, seating or equipment; temporary relief from lifting requirements; temporary transfer to less strenuous or hazardous work; and provisions for lactation in compliance with Title 26, section 604.”

The second, LD 733, An Act to Promote Keeping Workers in Maine, addresses noncompete agreements. As a threshold matter, the law prohibits any noncompete agreement with an employee who earns wages at or below 400% of the federal poverty level. Where noncompete agreements are permitted, the law further limits their scope, stating generally that noncompete agreements are contrary to public policy and are enforceable only to the extent they are reasonable and no broader than necessary to protect legitimate business interest of the employer, such as trade secrets, confidential information that does not qualify as a trade secret, or the employer’s goodwill. It includes the following provisions: first, the employer must disclose the requirement of a noncompete in any advertisement for that position and provide an employee or prospective employee with a copy of the agreement at least 3 business days before requiring that employee or prospective employee to sign it.  Second, the terms of a noncompete agreement (other than with some physicians) cannot go into effect until at least one year after employment begins or a period of 6 months from the date the agreement was signed, whichever is later. Finally, the law prohibits a “restrictive employment agreement”, which it defines as one between 2 or more employers that prohibits or restricts one employer from soliciting or hiring another employer’s employees or former employees. The law applies to noncompete agreements entered into or renewed after the effective date, September 19.

Anne-Marie L. Storey, Attorney at Law, Rudman Winchell

Anne-Marie Storey | Partner
The Graham Building | 84 Harlow Street
P.O. Box 1401 | Bangor, Maine 04402-1401
tel: 207.947.4501 | fax: 207.941.9715