June 27, 2023 Article

Maine Law Amended to Require More Details When Public Employees Disciplined

Governor Mills recently signed a bill amending the public disclosure requirements for public employees who have been disciplined. Although widely reported as applying to police misconduct, the law applies to all government employees. The law now requires that all final disciplinary actions “must state the conduct or other facts on the basis of which disciplinary action is being imposed and the conclusions of the acting authority as to the reasons for that action.” The law does not further clarify the level of detail that is now required.

The law was amended to address the common practice of failing to state or only vaguely describing the basis for discipline in the final decision. Since only the final decision becomes public none of the underlying details had previously been required by law to be revealed. While the law falls short of requiring that the complaint itself and the full extent of investigation be revealed, it will require a statement of what the misconduct was and why management determined discipline was required. Public employers are still prohibited from disclosing complaints of misconduct when disciplinary action is not imposed. How detailed the explanations must be will likely be determined by the courts.

A copy of the relevant bill, LD 1397 can be found here.