For State, Local, and Private Employees
No employee is immune from the pressures of discrimination and harassment – not in the private sector, nor in state and local government. While Maryland, and most states have at at-will employment relationship, the law does not permit illegal discrimination. Nonetheless it is unfortunately all too common. You are by no means the only employee to face it, and with Snider & Associates, you will not face it alone.
Various anti-discrimination laws, from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and others, are supposed to protect you against discrimination and harassment. But as well intentioned as these laws are, they are often not enough to prevent unlawful behavior perpetrated by colleagues and superiors.
Fortunately, the law does provide a measure of justice if you suffer from an adverse action in the workplace.
Maryland Prohibits a Wide Range of Unlawful Conduct
In addition to federal law, Maryland’s Fair Employment Practices Act protects workers against discrimination and harassment. Most Maryland Counties, and Baltimore City have their own anti-discrimination laws as well. For the most part, Maryland prohibits discrimination at work based on:
- National origin
- Physical disability
- Mental disability
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Marital status
The Baltimore City Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement – and in particular the Community Relations Commission – not only investigates discrimination claims, but helps to enforce 2014’s “Ban the Box” law, which prohibits employers from questioning would-be employees about their criminal records on the initial application. In short, Baltimore (as well as other local jurisdictions in Maryland) prohibits employers from automatically rejecting workers based on criminal records.
As a Private or State Employee, How Do You Fight Employment Discrimination?
As we explained on our page for federal workers, the process depends on whether you work in the private sector, in state government, or for the federal government. In some cases, for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, will send your case to your local Community Relations Commission for adjudication.
This is a rough outline of the process (this process may differ from city to city or county to county):
- File a timely claim. You must file within 180 or 300 days from the date of discrimination. Some jurisdictions allow you to file your complaint online. Note that your discrimination claim must generally arise out of one of the bases listed above, such as race, color, religion, or national origin.
- Attend a mediation. At this conference, your claim is heard by a neutral third party and your employer, and you work toward a settlement that puts an end to the discrimination or harassment.
- Investigation for probable cause. If settlement fails, or your case otherwise requires more time and effort to resolve, the investigating authority will gather additional evidence and provide a written statement as to whether unlawful employment discrimination took place.
- Issuance of a Notice of Right to Sue Letter: At the conclusion of the investigation the EEOC or local community relations commission will issue its findings along with a Notice of a right to sue letter. This letter explains your rights should you decide to continue with pursuing your claim.
Ultimately, a favorable determination will order your employer to put a stop to any unlawful behavior. If the determination is not favorable, or your employer does not cease the unlawful behavior, you have the option to take your case to court.
Maryland’s Fair Employment Practices Act
In addition to the process described above, the Fair Employment Practices Act, or FEPA, allows employees facing discrimination or harassment to sue their employer separately for an injunction (a court order to stop) and monetary damages. Under Md. Code Ann., State Govt., § 20–601, Maryland workers are protected not only against discrimination and harassment, but also from retaliation, such as wrongful termination or a demotion, after you raised the issue with your supervisor or brought a claim to HR.
If you are a private sector employee, or work in Maryland government at the state or local level, you can take action against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Call or email us today to setup an initial consultation.