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Maine Extends Scope of Its Whistleblowers’ Protection Act

On April 12, 2022, Maine adopted LD 1889, a bill that expands the scope of the state’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (Act) to include employees who work under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The amendment goes into effect on July 19, 2022.

The bill repeals a section of the Act that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court interpreted in Nadeau v. Twin Rivers Paper Company, LLC as a bar to enforcement of the Act in many cases in which a collective bargaining agreement is in place.

The Act prohibits employers from discharging, threatening or otherwise discriminating against employees who report, or refuse to participate in, illegal activities.

Employers are required to display a notice published by the Maine Department of Labor to inform employees of their rights and protections under the Act and provide contact information for reporting retaliation or discrimination claims with the state and the employer.

The Act imposes penalties on employers that fail to provide this required notice or retaliate against whistleblowers.

Next Steps for Employers

While the bill does not change provisions of the Act, employers in unionized environments should become familiar with the Act’s provisions and note that collective bargaining agreements may no longer shield employers from whistleblower discrimination claims. These employers should also evaluate their compliance with the Act’s notice requirements.

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