An Act To Enhance Enforcement of Employment Laws
Sec. 1. 26 MRSA c. 7, sub-c. 5-C is enacted to read:
PRIVATE ENFORCEMENT OF EMPLOYMENT LAWS
§ 840-A. Definitions
As used in this subchapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
§ 840-B. Public enforcement action
The relator shall equitably distribute the share of penalties due the relator among the persons aggrieved by the practices complained of in the public enforcement action. The relator shall submit a distribution summary to the State, which may order a different distribution within 60 days after submission of the distribution summary, as long as the relator receives an award that reflects the burdens and risks assumed by the relator in prosecuting the action, including any costs incurred by a representative organization that serves as a relator.
§ 840-C. Prohibition on certain public enforcement actions by relators
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 840-B, a public enforcement action may not be brought by a relator:
§ 840-D. Public access to information
§ 840-E. Retaliation prohibited
§ 840-F. Procedure
(1) The State has primary responsibility for prosecuting the action and is not bound by an act of the relator bringing the action;
(2) The relator remains a party to the action;
(3) The State may move to dismiss or settle the action after the relator has been notified of the filing of the motion and has been provided with an opportunity to be heard and the court determines that such dismissal or settlement is fair, adequate, reasonable and in the public interest; and
(4) Any disposition by the State must provide fair compensation for the attorney's fees and costs expended on behalf of the relator in instituting the action.
(1) The court must review and approve any settlement of any action filed pursuant to this subchapter. The proposed settlement must be submitted to the responsible state official and to the Attorney General at the same time that it is submitted to the court. The court may approve a settlement of the action only upon a determination that the settlement or voluntary dismissal is fair, adequate, reasonable and in the public interest. If the parties reach a settlement after the relator has provided notice pursuant to this subchapter but prior to the action being filed in court, the responsible state official shall review the proposed settlement. The responsible state official shall approve the settlement if the responsible state official determines it is fair, adequate, reasonable and in the public interest.
(2) If the State requests, it must be served with copies of all pleadings filed in the action and must be supplied with copies of all deposition transcripts. The State is responsible for costs associated with service of requested pleadings and deposition transcripts.
(3) The State may file, at any time, information or advice with the court as amicus curiae concerning the action.
§ 840-G. Community Outreach and Labor Education Fund
§ 840-H. Construction
This subchapter must be liberally construed in light of its remedial purposes to expand the enforcement of state law protecting employees.
This bill authorizes private persons, acting in the public interest, to enforce the laws governing employment practices and prohibiting unfair discrimination in the workplace.
Under this bill:
1. Private persons or whistleblowers, acting as relators, may bring public enforcement actions of employment laws on behalf of the State;
2. Civic organizations may assist aggrieved persons in reporting violations of employment laws; and
3. Persons who are injured by violations of employment laws are protected from retaliation.