A look back at Maine’s 2014 economy, in six charts | BDN

While data on Maine’s economy for 2014 is still rolling in (and will be for up to another year), we’re able to reflect on at least a few trends, most of which show the same broader story of Maine’s slow recovery from recession.

via A look back at Maine’s 2014 economy, in six charts | Widgets and Digits.


Child Labor Laws Relaxed

Portland Press Herald:

Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law a bill to ease Maine’s child labor restrictions so teenagers can work longer hours.  The bill signed today by the governor will allow students to work as many as 24 hours rather than the 20 per week under current law.  It also increases from four to six the number of hours students can work on school days.  Students can work as late as 10:15 p.m. on nights before school. Supporters said the new law helps businesses looking for youthful help, and also helps teenagers who need the money.

More details on Bangor Daily News

Portland Starbucks Age Discrimination Suit

The Press Herald reports on the progress of a woman’s claim that she was denied a job at Starbucks because of her age.  The article indicates that she has presented data that Starbucks hires younger applicants at a higher rate than those over 35.

In this type of lawsuit, the plaintiff needs to present a ‘prima facie’ case that there has been discrimination.  The data of disproportionate hiring can be used to show that.  Starbucks will have the burden of proving that they truly did not hire her for the reasons they stated, and not just based on her age.

The article notes that the judge found actions by the manager at the Hay Building Starbucks on Congress St. to be why he allowed the case to go forward.  As with any company, the wrong actions of one employee can cost you greatly.

If this does not settle, I hope to sit in on some of the trial.  Stay tuned!

Photo by Hint of Plum

Supreme Court to hear Maine case


The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a Maine case that pits 20 current and former state workers against the state and the Maine State Employees Association.

The case stems back to 2005, when lawmakers allowed the union to charge nonunion state workers a fee for being represented by the union in collective bargaining agreements. The workers who filed suit say the union is using the money to pay for litigation that is not related to their workplace.

The union has said that it spends those dues only on expenses allowed by law.

Employer Liability

By Elliott R. Teel

The Maine Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that suggests greater liability for employers for actions of their employees. The case concerned a employee who was driving home after completing a work assignment when he crashed into another vehicle, killing one and injuring two others.

The significance of the Court’s ruling is its indication that in future cases, Maine courts should allow for an expansion of time when an employer may be legally liable for the actions of an employee. The dissenting judges in the case noted that the ruling is a change in Maine law. The legal standard has been that a person who is “going to or coming from work is responsible for his or her own actions.”

Under Maine law, an employer is liable for the actions of an employee when their actions were within the “scope of employment.” To determine if the specific actions were within the scope of the employment, the court will look at three factors: (1) if the action was the type the employee was hired to perform; (2) the action took place substantially within the time and space as authorized by the employer; and (3) the action was done, at least in part, to benefit the employer.

The exact impact of the Court’s ruling is not yet known, though the ruling may lead to an employer being liable for the actions of an employee when they are driving to or from work or a specific assignment.  The ruling in the case overturned a lower courts dismissal of the case at an early stage of the case, and the Court did not articulate a new standard for the lower court to use, or for other future Maine cases. The Court did not explain what specific facts it found to be different in this case, or if they thought the current standard was outdated. However, based on the somewhat limited facts of the case, employers should be aware that they may be liable for their employees actions while they driving to or from work, or a specific assignment.

Atheist fired for refusing to be Santa

A Lebanon, Maine resident is bringing an action under Maine’s Human Rights Act for being fired by Walmart after he refused to wear a Santa Claus suit.

Under Maine law, people alleging discrimination must file a complaint with the commission before filing a lawsuit.

The commission will assign an investigator to look into Nolan’s allegation. The investigator will issue a report for the full commission, which will then vote rule on whether there are reasonable grounds to conclude that Nolan was discriminated against. It can take up to two years for the commission to decide if Nolan’s rights were violated.

After six months, Nolan could also ask the commission for a “right-to-sue letter,” allowing him to take his case to Maine Superior Court. At that point, the commission would stop its investigation.