Maryland News & Analysis

  • Broad employment contract must be in place before employee leaves

    As many Maryland employers know, in order to keep key employees who have access to sensitive financial information about your company from misusing that information when they leave, it's essential to have carefully crafted documents in place while they're still working for you. As one local employer recently learned, its failure to dot the i's and cross the t's while it still employed a key executive made it much more difficult to prevent him from competing against the company when he left, armed with confidential company information.

  • DOL increases civil money penalties for 2019

    The recent partial government shutdown didn't stop the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) from publishing some final regulations, including annual inflation adjustments to the civil money penalties set forth in the various statutes it enforces, such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The new penalties became effective January 23, 2019, and will apply to any citations issued after that date.

  • Maryland car wash settles race, national origin claims for $300K

    On December 19, 2018, Maritime Auto Wash (later known as Phase 2 Investments, Inc.) agreed to pay $300,000 in monetary damages and furnish equitable relief to settle a federal race and national origin discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

  • Agency Action

    EEOC announces increases in outreach, enforcement for 2018. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) noted increases in its 2018 outreach and enforcement actions as it released its annual Performance and Accountability Report in November 2018. Highlights in the report include the launch of a nationwide online inquiry and appointment system as part of the EEOC's Public Portal, which resulted in a 30 percent increase in inquiries and over 40,000 intake interviews. The report also noted that the EEOC's outreach programs reached 398,650 individuals, providing them with information about employment discrimination and their rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

  • Workplace Trends

    Turnover hits all-time high. Research from Salary.com indicates that total workplace turnover in the United States hit an all-time high in 2018, reaching 19.3%. That's nearly a full percentage point from 2017 and more than 3.5% since 2014. The report contains data from nearly 25,000 participating organizations of varying sizes in the United States. By industry, hospitality (31.8%), health care (20.4%), and manufacturing and distribution (20%) had the highest rates of total turnover. Utilities (10.3%), insurance (12.8%), and banking and finance (16.7%) had the lowest. By area of the country, the South Central region (20.4%) and the West (20.3%) had the highest rates of total turnover. The Northeast (17.3%) had the lowest rate of total turnover in the country.

  • 4th Circuit clarifies 2-year time limit for Rehabilitation Act claims

    The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Maryland employers) recently held that claims arising under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are subject to a two-year statute of limitations and not three as sometimes claimed. Let's take a look at this interesting decision.

  • Employer dodges defamation claim triggered by reference request

    As many Maryland employers know, providing a reference to a former employee can create unwanted litigation if not done carefully. To that end, most employers have adopted a "neutral" reference policy in which they confirm only the former employee's dates of employment and job title, provided the request is made in writing from a prospective employer. Some employers have learned that offering more—such as a subjective opinion about the employee's capabilities—could lead to further litigation and defamation claims. In a recent Maryland District Court decision, the court reviewed the relatively high standard for pressing such defamation claims.

  • DOL issues helpful guidance for tipped employees

    On November 8, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reissued a very helpful opinion letter (FLSA 2009-23) addressing the use of a tip credit in restaurants. Before the issuance of this guidance, there was significant confusion about how the tip credit applied in many common restaurant situations.

  • Earning employee trust can reduce your legal liabilities

    "Trust" is a slippery concept. What does it mean for your employees to "trust" you or "distrust" you? And why should you care?

  • Healthcare network settles disability and pregnancy discrimination suit for $1.75M

    On December 6, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that California-based Family Health Care Network agreed to pay $1.75 million and furnish other relief to settle a systemic disability and pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the agency. The network operates over 20 healthcare sites throughout California.