Discipline and termination

State procedures

Are there state-specific laws on the procedures employers must follow with regard to discipline and grievance procedures?

Maine has no specific law on this issue that is applicable to private employers.

At-will or notice

At-will status and/or notice period?

Like most other states, Maine recognizes the at-will employment doctrine. In the absence of an employment contract for a definite term, at-will relationship may be terminated by either the employer or the employee at any time for any reason not prohibited by law, with or without notice. Requiring employees to provide any specified amount of notice resignation would be considered inconsistent with the at-will doctrine.

What restrictions apply to the above?

Employees in Maine are protected from termination for engaging in the following protected conduct:

  • making a claim of discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation (defined to include gender identity and expression), age, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, or physical or mental disability, the applicant's previous assertion of a claim or right under former Title 39 or Title 39-A (Workers’ Compensation Act), or previous actions taken by the applicant that are protected under Title 26, chapter 7, subchapter 5-B (Whistleblowers’ Protection Act). 5 M.R.S.A. §§ 45724633;
  • taking time off from work for family or medical reasons (including family military leave). 26 M.R.S.A. § 843 et seq;
  • reporting a violation of a State or federal law or rule, a health or safety risk, refusing to perform an illegal act, or reporting a deviation from a standard of patient care. 26 M.R.S.A. § 831 et seq;
  • filing for workers’ compensation benefits. 39-A M.R.S.A. § 353;
  • taking time off work to attend court proceedings, receive medical treatment, or obtain necessary services to remedy a crisis caused by domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. 26 M.R.S.A. § 850;
  • choosing to participate in substance abuse treatment after the first instance of testing positive on an employer-administered substance abuse test. 26 M.R.S.A. § 685;
  • taking time off from work to fulfil duties as a legislator. 26 M.R.S.A. § 821 et seq;
  • taking time off from work to participate in National Guard or reserve training or service, or taking time off work when a spouse, domestic partner or child is deployed for extended active military service. 26 M.R.S.A. §§ 811, 814;
  • taking time off from work for jury duty. 14 M.R.S.A. § 1218;
  • taking a break from work to express breast milk for a nursing child for up to three years following childbirth. 26 M.R.S.A. § 604; and
  • using accrued paid time off to care for a family member that is ill. 26 M.R.S.A. § 636.
Final paychecks

Are there state-specific rules on when final paychecks are due after termination?

Under Maine law, every employee leaving employment must be paid in full no later than the next payday. 26 M.R.S.A. § 626. This law applies whether or not the employee leaves employment voluntarily. Id.

Whenever the terms of employment include provisions for paid vacations, earned, but unused, vacation pay on cessation of employment has the same status as wages earned. 26 M.R.S.A. § 626.

The employer may withhold from a final paycheck certain "overcompensation" and any loan or advance against future earnings or wages if evidenced by a statement in writing signed by the employee. 26 M.R.S.A. § 626. An employer cannot deduct wages when an employee has damaged or lost the employer’s property. Id. Nor can the employer withhold payment because the employee allegedly owes the employer money. Id.