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Legal Rights and Responsibilities

Frequently people have questions about the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees with regard to accommodating an individual with a disability. There are a variety of laws designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities, and these come with associated responsibilities of the individual with a disability.

In Maine, the two major pieces of legislation are the Maine Human Rights Act and the federal legislation, Americans with Disabilities Act.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): This federal legislation was signed in 1990 and amended in 2009 and provides qualified individuals with disabilities protection from discrimination in employment, housing, education, and service delivery.

Maine Human Rights Act: This Maine legislation additionally prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment beyond what is included in the ADA. Both the ADA and Maine Human Rights Act specify that this applies to the process of advertisement, application, interview process and employment.

Established in 1971, the Maine Human Rights Commission is the state agency charged with the responsibility of enforcing Maine's anti-discrimination laws.
Both pieces of legislation seek to ensure that an individual with a disability has the opportunity to attain the same employment, level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are available to an average similarly situated employee without a disability. This does not require an employer to provide preferential treatment to candidates with a disability or employees with a disability.

It is incumbent on the individual with a disability to request accommodations if they feel there's a disability-related need. Get more information:Accommodations

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The U.S. EEOC enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. They provide employment posters, technical assistance and training to businesses of all sizes.

The Maine Human Rights Commission and the U.S. EEOC work together in partnership under an agreement that delineates how charges that are jurisdictional under both state and federal laws administered by each agency are processed and reviewed.

Disclosure of a Disability

The decision to disclose a disability to a potential employer is made by the person seeking the job. Information regarding the disability should be disclosed only to the people who need the information. An employment provider cannot disclose any information that the job seeker does not agree to.