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Employment Laws in Maryland

Filed under Hiring Workers. Fact checked on January 30, 2013.

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Employers in Maryland must conform to these state rules relating to the employment relationship.

Employee means an individual employed by an employer but not a person elected to public office or any person chosen by a public officer to be on the officer's staff or an appointee on the policy making level or an immediate adviser with respect to the exercise of the constitutional or legal powers of the office, other than employees subject to state or local civil service laws.

The term employer means a person engaged in industry or business who has 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year and any agent of an employer, and the state but not a bona fide private membership club (other than a labor organization) that is exempt from taxation under section 501(c) of the IRS code.

Prohibited Employment Discrimination

It is an unlawful employment practice to discriminate in hiring or employment practices, including compensation, against an individual on the basis of the individual's:

  • race
  • color
  • religion
  • sex
  • age
  • national origin
  • marital status
  • sexual orientation
  • gender identity or expression
  • genetic information
  • refusal to submit to, or make available the results of, a genetic test
  • physical or mental disability that is unrelated in nature and extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment

Sexual orientation protections may not be construed to require or prohibit an employer to offer insurance benefits to unmarried domestic partners.

Pregnancy and childbirth. Employers must treat disabilities caused or contributed to by pregnancy or childbirth as temporary disabilities for all job-related purposes under the employer's health or temporary disability insurance or sick leave plan.

Retaliation. It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of its employees or applicants for employment because he or she has opposed an unlawful employment practice or because the individual has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any fair employment investigation, proceeding or hearing.

Political intimidation. During the 90 days before an election, an employer may not exhibit in the workplace a threat, notice, or information, that, on the election or defeat of a particular ticket or candidate work will cease wholly or partly, the workplace will close, or employees' wages will be reduced. Any other threat, expressed or implied, intended to influence the political opinions or actions of the employer's employees is also prohibited.

Same-sex marriages. The Maryland Attorney General issued an opinion that a same-sex marriage that is valid in another jurisdiction should be recognized as valid in Maryland.

Effective March 1, 2012, the Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2012, legalizes civil same-sex marriage in Maryland.

Volunteer fire and rescue squads. Employers are prohibited from discharging an employee for participation in an activity of a volunteer fire department or volunteer rescue squad if the activity is in response to an emergency declared by the governor and the employee provides written proof that his or her participation was required.

Civil air patrol. Employers are prohibited from discharging an employee for participation in an activity of a civil air patrol or civil defense if the activity is in response to an emergency declared by the governor and the employee provides written proof that his or her participation was required.

Employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against an employee who has been employed for a minimum of 90 days and is a member of the Civil Air Patrol based on such membership.

Employers may not hinder or prevent an employee who has been employed for a minimum of 90 days from performing service as part of the Maryland Wing of the Civil Air Patrol during an emergency mission if the member is otherwise entitled to such leave.

Use of credit history. Under the Job Applicant Fairness Act, employers may not deny employment to an applicant, discharge an employee, or determine compensation or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, on the basis of credit history. Employers may request or consider use of an applicant's or employee's credit history if the information has a bona fide purpose and is substantially job-related, and is disclosed in writing to the applicant or employee.

Social media access. Effective October 1, 2012, employers are prohibited from demanding that employees or applicants disclose their user name or password for accessing social media accounts.

Exceptions to Fair Employment Practice Act. Exceptions to the Act include:

  • bona fide occupational qualifications
  • seniority or benefit system
  • dress and grooming standards directly related to the nature of employment of the employee
  • religious organizations where the curriculum is directed toward the propagation of a particular religion
  • the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular sexual orientation to perform work connected with their activities

Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers must keep each record that the Commissioner of Labor and Industry requires on wages of employees, job classification of employees, and other conditions of employment. Employers must keep the required records for the period of time that the commissioner requires, and on the basis of the required records, an employer must make each report that the commissioner requires.

Posting Requirements

Maryland's Human Rights Commission has a prepared poster outlining the state's employment discrimination law.

The Commissioner of Labor and Industry must provide without charge, upon request of employers, a copy of the equal pay law and employers must keep posted conspicuously in each place of employment a copy of the law.

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