Maryland governor signs transgender rights bill

May 15, 2014 - by: Tony Kessler 0 COMMENTS

by Kevin C. McCormick

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has signed a bill that prohibits discrimination against transgender citizens in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations.

The Fairness for All Marylanders Act, which was passed by the legislature on March 27 and signed into law on May 15, adds “gender identity” to the Maryland laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. The law is designed to protect any person who has or is perceived to have a gender identity or expression that may be considered different or inconsistent with his assigned sex at birth, regardless of whether the person self-identifies as transgender.

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Baltimore council votes to ban the box

by Kevin C. McCormick

Employers in Baltimore will face new restrictions in conducting criminal background checks now that the city council has passed a tough new “ban the box” law.

Bill 13-0301, titled “Ban the Box—Fair Criminal Records Screening Practices,” passed the Baltimore City Council on April 28 and was expected to gain Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s signature. It is to go into effect 90 days after adoption.

Going far beyond the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s proposals on criminal background checks, Baltimore’s new law prohibits most employers from inquiring about applicants’ criminal background before making a conditional offer of employment. The bill’s sponsors claim the restrictions are needed to help Baltimore residents with criminal convictions obtain employment.

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Maryland Legislature passes bill to raise minimum wage to $10.10 by July 1, 2018

by David M. Stevens

On the final day of its legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill to dramatically raise the state’s minimum wage. The bill, which was supported by Governor Martin O’Malley and is expected to be signed into law, calls for a staggered increase in the minimum wage over a period of four years, with the final increase due to set the minimum wage at $10.10 effective July 1, 2018.

Employers will first feel the effect of the minimum wage increase on January 1, 2015, and the minimum wage will increase a total of five times under the following schedule:

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Maryland law on accommodations for pregnant workers takes effect October 1

by Kevin C. McCormick

Maryland’s Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers Act goes into effect October 1, meaning Maryland employers with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations to employees who experience a disability because of a pregnancy.

Basically, the new law requires employers to treat pregnancies in much the same way disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are handled. Accommodations are required unless they would impose an undue hardship on the employer.

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Maryland same-sex marriage law goes into effect January 1

by Kevin C. McCormick

Maryland’s new law allowing same-sex marriage takes effect January 1, 2013, meaning employers need to understand what changes are in store for the workplace.

The General Assembly passed the law legalizing same-sex marriage that Governor Martin O’Malley signed on March 12, 2012. However, the new law was on hold until Maryland voters decided to uphold it in a referendum held November 6.

Now that the law has been approved, Maryland employers are obligated to apply it in the workplace. Administering benefits to employees in same-sex marriages may be problematic. For example, while the federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides certain benefits to spouses, it isn’t clear if spousal benefits will apply to employees in same-sex marriages since the federal Defense of Marriage Act bars such individuals from receiving federal rights or benefits, regardless of whether state benefits are permitted.

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Maryland Passes Law Prohibiting Employers from Seeking Social Media Passwords

April 10, 2012 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

by Kevin McCormick

Maryland has become the first state to enact password protection legislation designed to prohibit employers from requiring applicants and employees to disclose their personal passwords to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

The legislation was passed April 9 and is expected to be signed by Governor Martin O’Malley. If signed, it will take effect October 1.

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Categories: Maryland / States (List)

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States Retain Sovereign Immunity from Suit Under FMLA Self-Care Provisions

March 21, 2012 - by: Holly Jones 1 COMMENTS

In a 5-4 opinion delivered Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that state employers are immune from suit for damages under the self-care provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

In the case, Daniel Coleman sued his employer, the Court of Appeals of the State of Maryland, for $1.1 million in damages when he was refused sick leave to attend to a documented medical condition. The lower courts dismissed Coleman’s case, holding that the claim was barred by the Eleventh Amendment’s grant of sovereign immunity to states, which prevents states from being sued for monetary damages.

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Categories: FMLA / Maryland / U.S. Supreme Court

IRS Offering Employers Break on Misclassification

September 22, 2011 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

Employers worried that they may have misclassified independent contractors may find relief in a new program from the IRS.

The Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) was announced September 21 and offers employers the opportunity to get into compliance by making a minimal payment covering past payroll tax obligations rather than waiting for an IRS audit.

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New Maryland Law Restricts Use of Credit Checks

September 20, 2011 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

By David M. Stevens

During its 2011 legislative session, the Maryland Legislature passed the Job Applicant Fairness Act, which was signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley on April 12. The law imposes significant restrictions on employers’ ability to perform credit checks on job applicants and employees. It goes into effect October 1.

For many employers, obtaining a credit report on prospective employees has become a routine part of the hiring process. However, the new law will require Maryland employers to reevaluate and in some cases limit use of credit reports.

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Maryland: ‘True Blue’ Victors May Need Low Profile

November 04, 2010 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

by Kevin McCormick, Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, L.L.P.

Against the national trend to oust the incumbents, Maryland remained a “true blue” state. We returned most of our Democratic incumbents, including Governor Martin O’Malley, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Attorney General Doug Gansler, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and a host of other Democratic congressional members.

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