Violence, Assault, Sexual Assault or Stalking Victims Leave Handbook Statement: Maine

Author: Amy E. Mendenhall, Marissa L. Dragoo, Corinn Jackson, and Judith A. Paulson, Littler

When to Include This Statement

Maine employers should consider including this statement in their handbook to inform employees about the availability of leave for victims of violence, assault, sexual assault and stalking and to demonstrate compliance with Maine law.

Customizable Handbook Statement

Violence, Assault, Sexual Assault or Stalking Victims Leave

Employees who are the victim, or who have a daughter, son, parent or spouse who is a victim, of violence, assault, sexual assault, stalking or any act that would support an order for protection under Maine law may take reasonable and necessary leave from work to:

  • Prepare for and attend court proceedings;
  • Receive medical treatment;
  • Attend to medical treatment for a victim who is the employee's daughter, son, parent or spouse; or
  • Obtain necessary services to remedy a crisis caused by domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Employees must submit a request for leave under this policy as soon as possible after learning of the need and must promptly provide the information needed by the Company to make an informed decision regarding the request. The Company may require documentation verifying the family relationship.

The Company may seek a modification or deny a request for leave if the:

  • Company would sustain undue hardship from the employee's absence;
  • Request for leave is not communicated to the Company within a reasonable time under the circumstances; or
  • Request for leave is impractical, unreasonable or unnecessary based on the facts known to the Company.

Leave under this policy is without pay except that employees who have earned leave time that would otherwise be applicable to the leave requested may elect use this earned leave.

The Company will not discipline or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee for requesting or taking leave under this policy

Guidance for Employers

  • Under Maine law, an eligible employee may take reasonable and necessary leave from work in order to:
    • Prepare for and attend court proceedings;
    • Receive medical treatment;
    • Attend to medical treatment for a victim who is the employee's daughter, son, parent or spouse; or
    • Obtain necessary services to remedy a crisis caused by domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • Employees are eligible for leave if the employee or the employee's daughter, son, parent or spouse is a victim of violence, assault, sexual assault, stalking or any act that would support an order for protection under Maine law.
  • Because employees may be entitled to leave as the spouse of a victim, it is important for employers to be aware that the US Supreme Court has ruled that states are required to allow same-sex marriages and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
  • Under Maine law, marriage is defined as "the legally recognized union of two people." Domestic partnership rights are also recognized in the state; however, only some statewide spousal rights are provided to registered domestic partners within the state. Employers should consult with legal counsel to help determine whether and to what extent domestic partners are entitled to leave benefits and protections.
  • Employees who need leave must:
    • Communicate the request for leave within a reasonable period of time under the circumstances; and
    • Provide in a timely manner the information necessary for the employer to make an informed decision on the request.
  • Employers may require employees to provide reasonable documentation of the family relationship, which may include a statement from the employee, a birth certificate, a court document or similar documents.
  • Leave may be without pay except that employees who have earned leave time that would otherwise be applicable to the leave requested may use the earned leave at their option.
  • Employers may not sanction employees or deprive them of pay or benefits for taking leave.
  • Employers should not discriminate against employees who are victims of domestic violence. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance explaining how such discriminatory conduct may violate existing federal anti-discrimination law. This guidance is available on the EEOC's website (http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/qa_domestic_violence.cfm).
  • Supervisors should be trained regarding how to respond to requests for leave so that they do not take any adverse actions (e.g., termination, demotion) against employees who are eligible for leave and who request or take leave and so that they handle these matters with discretion and confidentiality.
  • Employers that have concerns that a perpetrator of domestic violence may pose a threat to employees or the workplace, should contact the police and legal counsel for advice regarding appropriate security measures.