Discrimination, Sexual, and Unlawful Harassment

Discrimination, Sexual, and Unlawful Harassment

The information provided below is for informational purposes only.

The Maine Human Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) as amended, prohibit sexual and other unlawful harassment. The City has zero tolerance for unlawful and/or sexual harassment. Harassment based on a characteristic protected by law, such as race, color, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, religion, age, disability, veteran status, or other characteristic protected by State or Federal law, is prohibited.

You have the right to a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.

Your employer is required by law to have a clear policy to reduce and prevent harassment, discrimination, and sexual assault - through the Workplace Fairness Act

Harassment of City employees by management, supervisors, coworkers, or non-employees who are in the workplace is absolutely prohibited. Any retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual or unlawful harassment, or retaliation against individuals for cooperating with an investigation of a harassment complaint, is also unlawful and will not be tolerated.

How is discrimination proven?

There are three general categories of discrimination:

  1. Disparate treatment: This occurs when a person is treated less favorably than others because of their membership in a protected class.
  2. Disparate impact: This occurs when a policy or practice that is neutral on its face operates in a way that adversely impacts members of a protected class. 
  3. Hostile environment:  This usually does not involve a single discriminatory action but rather a pattern that is abusive and is based on protected class.  It is often referred to as harassment.  To be unlawful, the conduct must be severe or pervasive to the point that the environment is abusive and be both subjectively and objectively offensive.

If you are sexually harassed, you are not alone.

Harassment and/or discrimination because of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, marital status, uniformed service disability and age, are illegal.

Sexual harassment can look like unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or conduct of a sexual nature (verbal, physical, or visual), that is directed toward an individual because of gender.

It can also include conduct that is not sexual but is gender-related. Sexual harassment includes the harassment of the same or of the opposite sex.

Any employee who feels subjected to sexual or unlawful harassment or any other form of discrimination, or who has observed another employee being subjected to sexual or unlawful harassment or any other form of discrimination, should report the conduct to their Immediate Supervisor or Division/Department Head.

If you, a city employee, have discriminated against or experienced unlawful and/or sexual harassment by a city employee or an elected official you may file an ONLINE Complaint Form

If you, a city resident, have discriminated against or experienced unlawful and/or sexual harassment by a city employee or an elected official you may file an ONLINE Complaint Form

The Human Resources Division will be available to assist in processing complaints. An employee can report sexual or unlawful harassment or discriminatory treatment verbally or in writing. All allegations of sexual or unlawful harassment and discrimination will be investigated immediately.

Employees are also entitled to file a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission. The Maine Human Rights Commission can be reached by telephone at (207) 624-6290, fax (207) 624-8729 or by mail at #51 State House Station 19 Union Street, Augusta, ME 04333.

The Maine Human Rights Act also prohibits any employer or individual from punishing or penalizing, or attempting to punish or penalize, any person for seeking to exercise the rights protected by the Maine Human Rights Act, for reporting a violation of the Maine Human Rights Act, and for testifying in any proceeding brought pursuant to the Maine Human Rights Act.

You cannot be retaliated against by an employer or employee for filing a complaint.

In compliance with the Maine “Whistleblower’s Protection Act,” the City has established procedures for City employees, officers, and community residents to report alleged illegal, fraudulent, and/or improper activities by employees and to assure that such reports do not result in retaliation by the City.

No officer or employee shall use or threaten to use any official authority to influence, restrain, or prevent any other person who is acting as a whistleblower in good faith or upon a reasonable good faith belief. No officer or employee shall use or threaten to use any official authority or influence to cause any adverse employment action (including discharge, demotion, suspension, harassment, or other forms of discrimination) as retaliation against an officer or employee.

For more information. Personnel Policies

Frequently Asked Questions

What is unlawful harassment?

Unlawful harassment is conduct that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment; substantially and unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or otherwise adversely affecting an individual’s employment opportunities because of that individual’s membership in a protected class.

Unlawful harassment includes, but is not limited to, inappropriate:

epithets; slurs; jokes or pranks; innuendo; comments; written or graphic material; stereotyping; or other threatening, hostile or intimidating acts based on race, color, ancestry, national origin, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, disability, veteran status, or other characteristic protected by State or Federal law.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is generally defined under both State and Federal law as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where:

  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of any individual’s employment or a basis for employment decisions; or
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Other sexually oriented conduct, whether intended or not, that is unwelcome and has the effect of creating a work environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating, or humiliating such as but not limited to; unwelcome sexual advances; suggestive or lewd remarks; unwanted hugs, touches, kisses; requests for sexual favors to workers may also constitute sexual harassment.

Within each City department, the department head or designee is responsible for day-to-day compliance with this policy and for the prevention and correction of illegal discrimination.

Who are the victims?

Although the majority of victims are women, the victim, as well as the harasser, may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.

What should I do if I am being sexually harassed?

First, be sure the harasser knows you do not welcome these advances. Tell the harasser to stop.

If the harassment continues, write down each offensive suggestion, action or remark. Be as specific as you can, including time, date, and place of incident. Note the name(s) of any co-worker(s) who might have witnessed the incident. Talk to your co-workers and tell them what is happening to you.

Inform your supervisor (or your harasser’s supervisor) of the harassment. If you are in a union, talk to your union steward and use your grievance procedure. Your union has the duty to represent you on issues of sexual harassment or the union itself may become liable.

How do I file a complaint?

If you, a city employee, municipal elected official, committee member, or City-appointed volunteer/intern, believe there has been a suspected ethics violation including but not limited to; sexual harassment, unlawful harassment, discrimination, safety, etc by a city employee, municipal elected official, committee member, or City-appointed volunteer/intern, you may file an ONLINE Complaint Form; print, complete and mail in a Complaint Form (Hard Copy); or send bemail LewReporting@lewistonmaine.gov.

If you, a city resident, believe there has been a suspected ethics violation ethics violation including but not limited to; sexual harassment, unlawful harassment, discrimination, safety, etc by a city employee, municipal elected official, committee member, or City-appointed volunteer/intern, you may file an ONLINE Complaint Form; print, complete and mail in a Complaint Form (Hard Copy); or send by email LewReporting@lewistonmaine.gov.

For all other complaints NOT involving a City employee, municipal elected official, committee member, or City volunteer/intern, please contact:

Maine Human Rights Commission
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Maine State Legislature

Disclaimer: This website is not intended as legal advice. Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts from the Maine Human Rights Commission. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.