Maryland News & Analysis

  • 4th Circuit affirms dismissal of hostile environment, discrimination claims

    The dismissal of an employee's hostile work environment and discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act was recently affirmed by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Maryland employers). The decision serves as a helpful reminder of the types of conduct that may or may not violate the two statutes.

  • 4th Circuit upholds jury's finding of age discrimination

    The 4th Circuit recently refused to overturn a jury verdict in an age discrimination case filed against Time Warner Cable. As the appellate court pointed out, once a jury has evaluated witness credibility, weighed evidence, and reached a verdict, a litigant seeking to overturn the decision faces a steep hurdle.

  • Supreme Court will decide whether LGBT discrimination is unlawful

    The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the long-unresolved question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The issue has been percolating in the lower courts for quite a while. As it frequently does, the Court declined to consider the question until there was a conflict between several appellate courts. Let's take a look at the history of the Court's decisions, the arguments on both sides of the issue, and what we can expect next.

  • September 30 deadline looms for newly required EEO-1 data

    Employers required to submit EEO-1 reports to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are venturing into uncharted territory as they work to collect newly required information due by September 30. While they may be accustomed to submitting traditional EEO-1 information—data on employees' race/ethnicity and gender, or what's being called Component 1 data—this year they also must compile data on compensation and hours worked, or what's being called Component 2 data.

  • Baltimore City requires accommodation of breastfeeding employees

    As most of you are aware, employment law is composed of a patchwork of both federal and state requirements. But we often overlook the fact that city and county governments are increasingly adopting their own legislation to address a variety of workplace issues. For example, Baltimore City recently enacted an ordinance that requires employers to make certain accommodations for employees who breastfeed. While many employers may already provide break time for employees who need to express breast milk, the ordinance also imposes a number of administrative requirements with which employers in Baltimore City will need to comply.

  • Some loose ends from this year's legislative session

    DLLR gets a new name. One item of minor significance from the legislative session involves a name change. The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) was formed in 1970 to consolidate more than 30 agencies and boards responsible for licensing and regulating businesses in the state. The agency was reorganized in 1995. In an effort to avoid confusion about the agency's mission, lawmakers passed, and Governor Larry Hogan signed, House Bill (HB) 60, renaming DLLR the "Maryland Department of Labor." The secretary of labor, licensing, and regulation will now be known as the "secretary of labor."

    Governor Hogan vetoes ban-the-box legislation. On May 25, Governor Hogan vetoed Senate Bill (SB) 839/HB 994, which would have prohibited employers with 15 or more full-time employees from requiring job applicants to disclose, before the first in-person interview, whether they have a criminal record or have had criminal accusations brought against them. The prohibition wouldn't have applied to employers that are expressly authorized to inquire about criminal records under applicable federal or state law or employers that provide programs, services, or direct care to minors or vulnerable adults.

    The legislation wasn't intended to preempt a local jurisdiction's authority to enact or enforce a more restrictive criminal record screening law (as Baltimore City has done), and employers would have been prohibited from retaliating against applicants or employees who asserted a violation.

    When the Maryland Legislature reconvenes in January 2020, lawmakers are expected to revisit the issues addressed in SB 839/HB 994. They may have the votes to override the governor's veto next year.

    The author can be reached at kmccormick@wptlaw.com.

  • DOL says FMLA leave mandatory for employees and employers

    After more than 25 years, you might think questions regarding proper interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would be settled. It's a highly regulated law, and it provides employers far more detail and clarity than they get with most other labor and employment laws.

  • Tips to ensure you are prepared for a deposition

    For an HR professional, giving a deposition is a lot like visiting the dentist. You know it's necessary, but you probably aren't looking forward to it. You may be asked questions you don't want to answer (like how often you actually floss). And finally, consistently responsible practices should reduce your stress levels about the event, make it go a lot smoother, and prevent worse problems in the future.

  • Race discrimination claim gets new life from 4th Circuit

    One way a terminated employee can attempt to prove unlawful race discrimination is to show an employee of another race had a comparable record yet wasn't discharged. A recent case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit (the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over Maryland), which used a broad definition to establish "similarly situated employees," underscores the importance of maintaining objective performance reviews and consistent reasoning for terminating an individual.

  • The dangers of incorrectly applying the blended payment rate

    The 4th Circuit recently dealt with a case involving the complicated issue of blended payment rates. Finding that the employer used an impermissible blended hourly rate plan to compensate a class of consultants, the court affirmed a $1.63 million verdict in their favor. This case provides insight into how a blended rate must be applied to avoid the conclusion that it is really the employees' regular rate of pay.