An Act To Enact the Maine Fair Chance Employment Act
Sec. A-1. 5 MRSA §5301, as amended by PL 2011, c. 286, Pt. O, §1 and PL 2015, c. 429, §23, is further amended to read:
§ 5301. Eligibility for occupational license, registration or permit
Sec. A-2. 5 MRSA §5302, as amended by PL 1989, c. 84, §2, is further amended to read:
§ 5302. Denial, suspension, revocation or other discipline of licensees because of criminal record
If the applicant, licensee, registrant or permit holder demonstrates sufficient rehabilitation to warrant the public trust, the licensing agency may not deny the applicant, licensee, registrant or permit holder the license, registration or permit based in whole or in part on the applicant's, licensee's, registrant's or permit holder's prior criminal conviction.
After receiving notice of the preliminary denial issued pursuant to subsection 2, the applicant, licensee, registrant or permit holder must send or hand deliver the appeal within 30 business days.
Sec. A-3. 5 MRSA §5303, as amended by PL 2007, c. 369, Pt. A, §2 and affected by Pt. C, §5 and amended by PL 2015, c. 429, §23, is further amended to read:
§ 5303. Time limit on consideration of prior criminal conviction
Sec. A-4. 5 MRSA §5305 is enacted to read:
§ 5305. Confidential
Criminal history record information, and any other information pertaining to an applicant's, licensee's, registrant's or permit holder's background check obtained in conjunction with a screening, in the possession of a licensing agency is confidential and may not be disclosed if the information is being requested for use in connection with any application for employment or a license, registration or permit.
Sec. A-5. 5 MRSA §5306 is enacted to read:
§ 5306. Application
The provisions of this chapter apply notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, except to the extent the provision of law contains additional limitations on the consideration of criminal history record information by licensing agencies.
Sec. B-1. 5 MRSA §4611, as amended by PL 2011, c. 613, §18 and affected by §29, is further amended to read:
§ 4611. Complaint
Any aggrieved person, or any employee of the commission, may file a complaint under oath with the commission stating the facts concerning the alleged discrimination, except that a complaint must be filed with the commission not more than 300 days after the alleged act of unlawful discrimination. In addition, any person may file a complaint pursuant to section 4632 or section 4635.
Sec. B-2. 5 MRSA §4635 is enacted to read:
§ 4635. Use of criminal history information
Any person aggrieved by an employer's or prospective employer's violation of section 4724, 4725 or 4726 may file a complaint with the commission. The commission shall investigate and review such complaints and shall keep a record of all complaints or other contact concerning reports of problems, concerns or suggestions regarding the implementation, compliance and impact of chapter 337-D. The commission shall also conduct periodic reviews with private employers to assess compliance with that chapter.
Penalties are collected by the commission in a civil action and must be paid to the Treasurer of State for deposit to the General Fund.
There is a rebuttable presumption that an employer has violated section 4725 or section 4726 if the employer does not maintain records in compliance with section 4728, or does not allow the commission reasonable access to such records, absent clear and convincing evidence that the employer has not violated section 4725 or 4726.
Sec. B-3. 5 MRSA c. 337-D is enacted to read:
MAINE FAIR CHANCE EMPLOYMENT ACT
§ 4721. Short title
This chapter may be known and cited as "the Maine Fair Chance Employment Act."
§ 4722. Declaration of policy
It is the declared public policy of the State to encourage the rehabilitation of criminal offenders and to assist them in the resumption of the responsibilities of citizenship by increasing opportunities for this population to secure employment and secure licensure in order to engage in a meaningful and profitable occupation.
§ 4723. Definitions
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
§ 4724. Limitations on State use and disclosure of criminal history information
The State may not discriminate in any way, for the purposes of hiring decisions, between applicants with criminal convictions that occurred more than 3 years from the date of application and applicants with no prior criminal history information.
§ 4725. Consideration of criminal history information
§ 4726. Employer use of criminal history information
If the applicant demonstrates mitigation or rehabilitation to the employer, the employer may not deny the applicant the position of employment based in whole or in part on the applicant's criminal history information. The employer may not hire another individual for the position of employment until after it has made a final employment decision pursuant to subsection 3.
After receiving notice of the preliminary denial issued pursuant to subsection 1, the applicant must send or deliver the preliminary appeal within 10 business days.
If the employer decides to make a final denial of employment, the employer must notify the applicant in writing of the following:
§ 4727. State contractors; policy
It is the policy of the State to do business with only contractors that have adopted and comply with written policies, practices and standards that are consistent with the requirements of this Act. State agencies shall review all potential contractors' criminal background check policies for consistency with this Act and shall consider criminal background check policies and practices among the performance criteria in evaluating whether to award a contract to a contractor.
§ 4728. Records
(1) To whom the employer provided a preliminary denial notice pursuant to section 4726, subsection 1;
(2) Who provided the employer with evidence of mitigation or rehabilitation pursuant to section 4726, subsection 2;
(3) To whom the employer provided a final denial notice pursuant to section 4726, subsection 3; and
(4) Who were hired;
§ 4729. Violation by a private employer
§ 4730. Violation by a public employer
An individual who is aggrieved by a violation of section 4724, section 4725 or section 4726 by the State or its political subdivisions may file a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission pursuant to section 4635, but such public employers are not subject to civil penalties pursuant to that section. An individual may not bring a civil action pursuant to section 4729, subsection 2 against the State or its political subdivisions.
The Director of Human Resources shall conduct a periodic audit to review the State's hiring practices in an effort to ensure that individuals with criminal convictions are not unreasonably denied employment with the State.
§ 4731. Application
The provisions of this Act apply notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, except to the extent the provision of law contains additional limitations on the consideration of criminal history information of applicants for employment.
This bill enacts the Maine Fair Chance Employment Act and adds restrictions to the use of criminal history information in the context of employment decisions by private employers and the State and its political subdivisions and of licensing decisions by licensing agencies.
It prohibits an employer from asking an applicant for employment to disclose information concerning the applicant's criminal history, or considering such information, until after the applicant has received a conditional offer of employment. It restricts the way a private employer, or the State and its political subdivisions, may use criminal history information in the course of making employment decisions and adds similar restrictions to the existing restrictions applicable to licensing agencies' consideration of criminal history information. It also makes certain criminal history information in the possession of the State and its political subdivisions confidential and makes all criminal background check information obtained by the State in connection with an employment decision confidential.
The Maine Human Rights Commission is charged with enforcement of the Maine Fair Chance Employment Act and may seek civil penalties against a private employer for a violation of $1,000 for the first violation and $2,000 for each subsequent violation.
The bill also creates a private right of action that may be brought by an affected individual against a private employer that has violated the Maine Fair Chance Employment Act and, upon prevailing, the affected individual is entitled to such legal or equitable relief as the court may determine appropriate and reasonable attorney's fees and costs.