New Case Update Regarding Employment Discrimination

By Rudman Winchell Attorney

Update from Rudman Winchell’s Employment Team:

A decision was issued last week from Maine’s highest court in an employment discrimination claim which is very significant for Maine employers who also have employees in other states.

The case involved an employee who alleged sexual orientation discrimination. One of the issues on appeal was whether the lower court applied the correct cap on damages.

As you know, an employer’s liability for certain types of damages is limited by statute. In this case, the court applied the cap for employers with 500 or more employees, which is $500,000. The employer, a national company, argued this was incorrect. Although it employs more than 500 employees nationwide, it employs relatively few employees in Maine and therefore argued the lowest cap, $50,000 (which covers employers with between 15 and 100 employees) should have been applied.

The Court disagreed, stating that “a plain language reading of the statute leads to the conclusion that the Legislature did not intend to distinguish between the number of employees in Maine and the number of employees nationwide; rather, the clear intent of the graduated caps is to protect smaller employers from large damage judgments that could potentially devastate them.

The Legislature clearly intended that the protections of the MHRA reach employers who are based in Maine even if they have out-of-state employees as well as employers based elsewhere who have employees in Maine.”

If you have any questions regarding this decision, please e mail Anne-Marie Storey at astorey@rudmanwinchell.com

 

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