Maryland’s New Workplace Harassment Laws Now in Effect

By Kris Janisch
Published Oct. 15, 2019

Maryland Harassment Law Update October 2019

Independent contractors are now considered “employees” under Maryland’s revised workplace harassment law, the Fair Employment Practices Act.

Newly expanded workplace harassment laws in Maryland went into effect Oct. 1, leaving employers with several compliance issues to consider.

The legislation amended Maryland’s Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA). Broadly speaking, the changes:

  • Expand the definition of “employee” to include independent contractors
  • Extend the statute of limitations for employees to file claims with a state agency from six months to two years
  • Allow harassment claims against companies with one more employees instead of 15 or more
  • Make employers liable for harassment claims against supervisors

Meanwhile, the time employees have to file a private harassment lawsuit has been extended to three years, up from two.

The amendments to FEPA in Maryland do not require a new posting.

Under the legislation, harassment includes adverse conduct based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Ancestry or national origin
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Disability

These amendments to Maryland’s non-discrimination law were among a host of new laws that went into effect in the state Oct. 1.

Harassment Laws, #MeToo, Other Legislation

The expansion of laws such as Maryland’s reflects a growing trend of legislation related to the #MeToo movement.

In addition to expanded protections for employees, the laws can include:

  • Pay equity
  • Salary history bans
  • Harassment training requirements
  • Lower standards to establish claims

This summer, Illinois passed sweeping new laws aimed at reducing harassment in the workplace. Supplemental training, additional state oversight and enhancing workers’ ability to file harassment claims were part of the new measures.

Elsewhere, Connecticut’s new sexual harassment law also went into effect Oct. 1. The “Time’s Up” Act requires employers to provide more training, includes posting and notice provisions, and expands employee protections.

These laws, and others, underscore the need for employers to revisit company policies and educate employees and supervisors about proper conduct in the workplace.

This Labor Law News Blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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