Maine Human Rights Commission Changes Process to Weed Out Weak Cases

Thursday, February 20, 2014

In response to significant concerns about the timeliness of handling claims and the often unnecessary drain of going through the full process of responding to meritless Human Rights Commission claims, the Commission has become more aggressive about administratively dismissing cases.  Typically, the Human Rights Commission process has been routine.  A charge comes in and it takes up to two months for that charge to be sent to the Respondent while the Commission initially processes it and drafts a document and information request to the employer.  That causes a lot of work for the employer.  In cases that appear to be particularly without merit, the Commission has concluded it simply is not fair to require that work from the employer.  As a result, we have started to see cases where rather than drafting the document or information request to the employer, the employer is receiving a copy of the complaint and a copy of a request for more information to the employee.  If the employee is unable to provide additional information to support the claim, the claim will be administratively dismissed without the employer ever doing anything.  This is a significant potential upgrade to the process, and hopefully, it will be used extensively by the Commission.

In my recent discussions with the Chief Investigator, it is clear that this is being done because of the recognition that the vast majority of cases are not meritorious and the Commission needs to focus its limited resources on cases which truly need to be investigated.