Maine Captive Audience Statute Requirements
For employers operating in New England, they are likely aware of Connecticut and New York’s recent captive audience statutes, but a quick re-cap on Maine’s recently enacted Captive Audience statute:
Maine’s Captive Audience statute went into effect in September 2023, and includes a requirement that employers have postings in the workplace on or prior to October 19, 2023, informing employees of their rights under the statute. Employers who have not updated their postings, should do so immediately.
The statute, entitled An Act to Protect Employee Free Speech, restricts an employer from discharging, disciplining, or otherwise penalizing or threatening to penalize or take adverse action as a result of an employee declining to attend or participate in an employer-sponsored meeting or communication that includes the employer’s opinion about religious or political matters. In addition, adverse action cannot be taken on account of an employee’s report of violation or suspected violation of the statute, and threat of adverse action cannot be used as an attempt to induce an individual to participate in a meeting or listen to communication concerning the employer’s opinion on religious or political matters.
Religious matters are defined as “matters relating to religious belief, affiliation and practice and the decision to join or support any religious organization or association.” Political matters are more broadly defined as: “matters relating to elections for political office, political parties, proposals to change legislation, proposals to change rules or regulations, proposals to change public policy and the decision to join or support any political party or political, civic, communicate, fraternal or labor organization.”
In addition to confirming compliance with current posting requirements, employers should be mindful of upcoming and currently scheduled trainings and communications and whether they are compliant with this new standard. This standard exempts religious employers, but otherwise applies to all employers regardless of size.