A bill that would end “at-will” employment in Maine has been supported by the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee, but employers have expressed extreme concerns.

The committee voted 8-5 Friday, May7th to recommend passage of L.D. 553 to the full Legislature, which would end at-will employment and standardize progressive discipline. The bill is sponsored by the committee’s House chair, Rep. Mike Sylvester, a Portland Democrat.

At-will employment allows an employer to terminate an employee at any time, without cause, explanation or prior warning, provided the action does not violate state and federal anti-discrimination laws, Maine has no provisions against at-will employment.

L.D. 553 bill would prohibit employers from terminating an employee without cause. Under the bill, an employee could not be fired unless the employer applied a three-step progressive discipline process and notified the employee of their cause for dismissal.

At-will employment has been the norm in Maine and across the nation for decades. Employers concerns are the belief that the bill would create a private right of action or other basis for suing an employer. There would be no limit on the damages employees could seek if they can prove an employer violated the progressive discipline policy.

The bill faces possible language revisions and additional review by the House and Senate in the near future.

Megan Diver

Megan has worked in Maine politics for more than ten years and all of her professional career, having served in many roles for elected officials (including former Secretary of State Charlie Summers), in-house with the Maine Association of REALTORS®, legislative specialist at Pierce Atwood LLP providing lobbying services and support to Pierce Atwood’s government relations clients and most recently senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Megan currently is the Vice President at the Maine Energy Marketers Association, utilizing her vast knowledge and legislative experience at the State House to represent MEMA on policies relating to the Association and its members.