Wabanaki Legal News, January 2009
Over the past few years, Pine Tree's Native American Unit has worked to bring discrimination cases on behalf of Native Americans in Maine in the areas of employment, housing, education, and public accommodations. Anyone who has experienced discrimination knows that it can be subtle. Usually the person or organization accused of discrimination does not come out and say, for example, your boss fired you because you're Indian. Native Americans know that it is common in Maine to be passed over in line at a store, to wait longer than others to be served at a restaurant, to hear nothing after leaving a message about an apartment, to be told that a unit is suddenly rented when you arrive to look at it. Yet even though such discrimination is subtle and perhaps more difficult to prove, it is still illegal, and it is very important to keep fighting it at every turn.
If you believe you have been discriminated against because you are a Native American, please call us right away. Also, it is very important to gather information about the discrimination as soon as possible. Write down the specific date, time, and place when the discrimination occurred. Be sure to get the name or write down a physical description (height, weight, hair color, age, glasses?, etc.) of the offending person. Also, get the names and phone numbers of witnesses who observed or heard it. Often times a case will turn on whether there are witnesses.
Native American Unit attorneys have brought discrimination cases before the Maine Human Rights Commission and the courts and have achieved some significant results. We intend to keep bringing discrimination cases in the hope that they will continue to break down barriers to equal treatment. Win or lose, it is important to this generation, and to future generations, to fight illegal discrimination.