State Law > Maryland > Maryland Employment Discrimination Law

Maryland Employment Discrimination Law

 

Maryland employment discrimination laws are located in the following sections of the Code of Maryland.

Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act

Article 49B
  • 15. Terms defined.
  • 16. Prohibited employment practices.
  • 17. Pregnancy or childbirth.
State Employees
  • 2-301. Prohibited discrimination and harassment.
Medical Information
  • 5-604. Medical information; Prohibited discrimination.
Discrimination Because of Psychiatric or Psychological Condition
  • 3-701. Unlawful questions; Exceptions.
Attendance at proceeding
  • 778. Attendance at proceedings; Discrimination prohibited.
Equal Pay
  • 3-304. Equal pay for equal work.
  • 3-308. Unlawful practices; Penalties.

Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act

14. Policy.

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State of Maryland, in the exercise of its police power for the protection of the public safety, public health and general welfare, for the maintenance of business and good government and for the promotion of the State's trade, commerce and manufacturers to assure all persons equal opportunity in receiving employment and in all labor management-union relations regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability unrelated in nature and extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment, and to that end to prohibit discrimination in employment by any person, group, labor organization, organization or any employer or his agents.

15. Terms defined.
For the purposes of this subtitle:

(a) Person. The term "person" includes one or more individuals, labor unions, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint-stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, or receivers.

(b) Employer. The term "employer" means a person engaged in an industry or business who has fifteen or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent of such a person; such term does include the State of Maryland to the extent as may be provided in this article but such term does not include a bona fide private membership club (other than a labor organization) which is exempt from taxation under Sec. 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.

(c) Employment agency. The term "employment agency" means any person regularly undertaking with or without compensation to procure employees for an employer or to procure for employees opportunities to work for an employer and includes an agent or such a person; but shall not include an agency of the United States or an agency of the State of Maryland or political subdivision thereof, except such term shall include the United States Employment Service and the system of State and local employment services receiving federal assistance.

(d) Labor organization. The term "labor organization" means a labor organization engaged in an industry and any agent of such an organization, and includes any organization of any kind, any agency, or employee representation committee, group, association, or plan so engaged in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment, and any conference, general committee, joint or system board, or joint council so engaged which is subordinate to a national or international labor organization.

(e) Employee. The term "employee" means an individual employed by an employer, except that "employee" does not include any person elected to public office or any person chosen by the officer to be on the officer's personnel staff, or an appointee in the policymaking level or an immediate advisor with respect to the exercise of the constitutional or legal powers of the office. The exception set forth in the preceding sentence does not include employees subject to the State or local civil service laws.

(f) Religion. The term "religion" includes all aspects of religious observances and practice, as well as belief, except in those cases when the observance, practice, or belief cannot be reasonably accommodated by an employer without causing undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business.

(g) Disability. The term "disability" means any physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement which is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness including epilepsy, and which shall include, but not be limited to, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical coordination, blindness or visual impairment, deafness or hearing impairment, muteness or speech impediment or physical reliance on a seeing eye dog, wheelchair, or other remedial appliance or device; and any mental impairment or deficiency as, but not limited to, retardation or such other which may have necessitated remedial or special education and related services.

(h) "Genetic information" has the meaning stated in section 27-909(A)(3) of the insurance article.

(i) "Genetic test" has the meaning stated in section 27-909(A)(5) of the insurance article.

(j) "Sexual orientation" means the identification of an individual as to male ore female homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.

16. Prohibited employment practices.

(a) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer:

(1) To fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to the individual's compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, genetic information, sexual orientation, or disability unrelated in nature and extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment, or because of the individual's refusal to submit to a genetic test or make available the results of a genetic test;

(2) To limit, segregate, or classify its employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect the individual's status as an employee, because of the individual's race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, genetic information, sexual orientation, or disability unrelated in nature and extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment, or because of the individual's refusal to submit to a genetic test or make available the results of a genetic test; or

(3) to request or require genetic tests or genetic information as a condition for hiring or determining benefits.

(b) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employment agency to fail or refuse to refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of the individual's race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability unrelated in nature and extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment, or to classify or refer for employment any individual on the basis of the individual's race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability unrelated in nature and extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment.

(c) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for a labor organization: (1) to exclude or to expel from its membership, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of the individual's race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability unrelated in nature and extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment; (2) to limit, segregate or classify its membership, or to classify or fail or refuse to refer for employment any individual, in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities, or would limit such employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect the individual's status as an employee or as an applicant for employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability unrelated in nature and extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment; or (3) to cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against an individual in violation of this section.

(d) It shall be an unlawful employment practice for any employer, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee controlling apprenticeship or other training or retraining, including on-the-job training programs to discriminate against any individual because of the individual's race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability unrelated in nature or extent so as to reasonably preclude the performance of the employment in admission to, or employment in, any program established to provide apprenticeship or other training.

(e) It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer, labor organization, or employment agency to print or cause to be printed or published any notice or advertisement relating to employment by the employer or membership in or any classification or referral for employment by the labor organization, or relating to any classification or referral for employment by the agency, indicating any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination, based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or on the basis of a disability. However, a notice or advertisement may indicate a preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on religion, sex, age, national origin or disability when religion, sex, age, national origin or disability is a bona fide occupational qualification for employment.

(f) It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of its employees or applicants for employment, for an employment agency to discriminate against any individual, or for a labor organization to discriminate against any member thereof or applicant for membership, because the individual has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this subtitle or because the individual has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subtitle.

(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subtitle, (1) it is not an unlawful employment practice for an employer to hire and employ employees, for an employment agency to classify, or refer for employment any individual, for a labor organization to classify its membership or to classify or refer for employment any individual, or for an employer, labor organization or joint labor-management committee controlling apprenticeship or other training or retraining programs to admit or employ any individual in any such program, on the basis of the individual's religion, national origin or disability in those instances where sex, age, religion, national origin or disability is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise; (2) it is not an unlawful employment practice for an employer to establish standards concerning an employee's dress and grooming if the standards are directly related to the nature of the employment of the employee; (3) it is not an unlawful employment practice for a school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning to hire and employ employees of a particular religion if the school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning is, in whole or in substantial part, owned, supported, controlled, or managed by a particular religion or by a particular religious corporation, association, or society or if the curriculum of the school, college, university, or other educational institution or institution of learning is directed toward the propagation of a particular religion; and (4) it is not unlawful for an employer, employment agency or labor organization to observe the terms of a bona fide seniority system or any bona fide employee benefit plan such as a retirement, pension or insurance plan, which is not a subterfuge to evade the purposes of this subtitle; however, no employee benefit plan shall excuse the failure to hire any individual.

(h) Nothing contained in this subtitle shall be interpreted to require any employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee subject to this subtitle to grant preferential treatment to any individual or to any group because of the race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability of the individual or group on account of an imbalance which may exist with respect to the total number or percentage of persons of any race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or persons with disabilities employed by any employer, referred or classified for employment by any employment agency or labor organization, admitted to membership or classified by any labor agency or labor organization, admitted to membership or classified by any labor organization, or admitted to, or employed in, any apprenticeship or other training program, in comparison with the total number or percentage of persons of such race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or persons with disabilities in any community, State, section, or other area, or in the available work force in any community, State, section, or other area.

(i) An employer shall be immune from liability, under this article or under the common law, arising out of the employer's reasonable acts to verify the sexual orientation of any employee or applicant taken by the employer in response to a charge filed against the employer on the basis of sexual orientation.

17. Pregnancy or childbirth.

Disabilities caused or contributed to by pregnancy or childbirth, are temporary disabilities for all job-related purposes, and shall be treated as such under any health or temporary disability insurance or sick leave plan available in connection with employment. Written and unwritten employment policies and practices involving matters such as the commencement and duration of leave, the availability of extensions, the accrual of seniority and other benefits and privileges, reinstatement and payment under any health or temporary disability insurance or sick leave plan, formal or informal, shall be applied to disability due to pregnancy or childbirth on the same terms and conditions as they are applied to other temporary disabilities subject to the provisions of this section.

17A. Sovereign immunity.

This State, its officers, and its units may not raise sovereign immunity as a defense against a salary award in an employment discrimination case under Sec. 16 of this article.

State employees

2-301. Prohibited discrimination and harassment.

(a) Purpose. The State recognizes and honors the value and dignity of every person and understands the importance of providing employees and applicants for employment with a fair opportunity to pursue their careers in an environment free of discrimination or harassment prohibited by law.

(b) Personnel actions.

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection or by other law, all personnel actions concerning a state employee or applicant for employment in State government shall be made without regard to:

(i) age;

(ii) ancestry;

(iii) color;

(iv) creed;

(v) marital status;

(vi) mental or physical disability;

(vii) national origin;

(viii) race;

(ix) religious affiliation, belief, or opinion; or

(x) sex.

(2) A personnel action may be taken with regard to age, sex, or disability to the extent that age, sex, or physical or mental qualification required by law or is a bona fide occupational qualification.

(c) Responsibilities of employees, managers and supervisors; penalites for violation of subtitle.

(1) Each State employee is expected to assume personal responsibility and leadership in ensuring fair employment practices and equal employment opportunity in Maryland State government.

(2) Employment discrimination and harassment by State managers, supervisors, or other employees is prohibited.

(3) A State employee who violates this subtitle is subject to disciplinary action by the employee's appointing authority, including the termination of state employment.

(d) Equal Employment Opporunity program.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Program in Title 5, Subtitle 2 of this article governs all employees of any unit in the Executive Branch of State government, including a unit with an independent personnel system.

(e) Reports.

(1) At least annually, the Secretary of personnel shall report on the Equal Employment Opportunity Program established in Sec. 5-202 of this article to the Legislative Joint Committee on Fair Practices.

(2) The head of a personnel system in the Legislative and Judicial Branches may report periodically on equal employment opportunity programs and policies in effect in that personnel system to the Legislative Joint Committee on Fair Practices.

Medical information

5-604. Medical information; Prohibited discrimination.

(a) Medical information.

(1) An employer or other person may not discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee on the basis of information gained through participation of the employee in group medical coverage.

(2) This title does not prevent an employer from using medical information that:

(i) has a direct, material, and timely relationship to the capacity or fitness of an employee to perform the job of the employee properly; or

(ii) differs substantially from medical information that the employee falsely provides in an application for employment.

(b) Retaliatory action prohibited. An employer or other person may not discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because the employee:

(1) files a complaint under or related to this title;

(2) brings an action under this title or a proceeding under or related to this title or causes the action or proceeding to be brought;

(3) has testified or will testify in an action under this title or a proceeding under or related to this title; or

(4) exercises, for the employee or another, a right under this title.

(c) Complaint by employee.

(1) An employee who believes that an employer or other person has discharged or otherwise discriminated against the employee in violation of subsection (a) or (b) of this section may submit to the Commissioner a written complaint that alleges the discrimination and that includes the signature of the employee.

(2) An employee shall file a complaint under this subsection within 30 days after the alleged discrimination occurs.

(d) Action by Commissioner.

(1) On receipt of a complaint under subsection (c) of this section, the Commissioner may investigate.

(2) If, after investigation, the Commissioner determines that an employer or other person has violated subsection (a) or (b) of this section, the Commissioner shall file a complaint to enjoin the violation, to reinstate the employee to the former position with back pay, or for other appropriate relief in the circuit court for:

(i) the county in which the alleged violation occurred;

(ii) the county in which the employer has its principal office; or

(iii) Baltimore City.

(3) Within 90 days after the Commissioner receives a complaint, the Commissioner shall notify the employee of the determination under this subsection.

3-701. Unlawful questions; Exceptions.

(a) Scope of section. This section does not prohibit a proper medical evaluation by a physician to assess the ability of an applicant to perform a job.

(b) Prohibited activity. An employer may not require an applicant for employment to answer an oral or written question that relates to a physical, psychiatric, or psychological disability, illness, handicap, or treatment unless the disability, illness, handicap, or treatment has a direct, material, and timely relationship to the capacity or fitness of the applicant to perform the job properly.

(c) Rights of applicant. If an employer violates any provision of subsection (b) of this section, an applicant for employment may:

(1) submit to the Commissioner a written complaint; or

(2) bring an action for injunctive relief, damages, or other relief.

(d) Power of Commissioner. Whenever the Commissioner determines that this section has been violated, the Commissioner may try to resolve any issue involved in the violation informally by mediation.

Attendance at proceeding

778. Attendance at proceedings; Discrimination prohibited.

As provided in section 9-205 of the courts article, a person may not be deprived of employment solely because of job time lost as a result of the person's attendance at a proceeding that the person has a right to attend under section 773 or section 857 of this article or under section 3-812 of the courts article.

9-205. Depriving employment prohibited.

(a) An employer may not deprive an employee of the employee's job solely because of job time lost by the employee as a result of:

(1) The employee's response to a subpoena requiring the employee to appear as a witness in any civil or criminal proceeding, including discovery proceedings; or

(2) The employee's attendance at a proceeding that the employee has a right to attend under article 27, section 773 or section 857 of the code, or under section 3-812 of this article.

(b) An employer that violates subsection (a) of this section may be fined not more than $1,000.

Equal Pay

3-304. Equal pay for equal work.

(A) In general. An employer may not discriminate between employees in any occupation by paying a wage to employees of 1 sex at a rate less than the rate paid to employees of the opposite sex if both employees work in the same establishment and perform work of comparable character or work on the same operation. In the same business, or of the same type.

(B) Effect of requirement. Subsection (A) of this section does not prohibit a variation in a wage that is based on:

(1) A seniority system that does not discriminate on the basis of sex:

(2) A merit increase system that does not discriminate on the basis of sex:

(3) Jobs that require different abilities or skills;

(4) Jobs that require the regular performance of different duties or services; or

(5) Work that is performed on different shifts or at different times of day.

(C) Reduction in wages. An employer who is paying a wage in violation of this subtitle may not reduce another wage to comply with this subtitle.

3-305. Recordkeeping requirements.

(A) Records.

(1) Each employer shall keep each record that the commissioner requires on:

(I) Wages of employees;

(II) Job classifications of employees; and

(III) Other conditions of employment.

(2) An employer shall keep the records required under this subsection for the period of time that the commissioner requires.

(B) Reports. On the basis of the records required under this section, an employer shall make each report that the commissioner requires.

3-306. Posting of notices.

(A) Copies. On request of an employer, the commissioner shall provide without charge a copy of this subtitle to the employer.

(B) Posting. Each employer shall keep posted conspicuously in each place of employment a copy of this subtitle.

3-307. Violations; Action against employer.

(A) Action by employee.

(1) If an employer violates this subtitle, an affected employee may bring an action against the employer to recover the difference between the wages paid to male and female employees who do the same type work and an additional equal amount as liquidated damages.

(2) An employee may bring an action on behalf of the employee and other employees similarly affected.

(B) Assignment of claims. On the written request of an employee who is entitled to bring an action under this section, the commissioner may:

(1) Take an assignment of the claim in trust for the employee;

(2) Ask the attorney general to bring an action in accordance with this section on behalf of the employee; and

(3) Consolidate 2 or more claims against an employer.

(C) Limitations period. An action under this section shall be filed within 3 years of the act on which the action is based.

(D) Defense. The agreement of an employee to work for less than the wage to which the employee is entitled under this subtitle is not a defense to an action under this section.

(E) Cost. If a court determines that an employee is entitled to judgment in an action under this section, the court shall allow against the employer reasonable counsel fees and other costs of the action.

3-308. Unlawful practices; Penalties.

(A) Prohibited acts of employer. An employer may not:

(1) Willfully violate any provision of this subtitle;

(2) Hinder, delay, or otherwise interfere with the commissioner or an authorized representative of the commissioner in the enforcement of this subtitle;

(3) Refuse entry to the commissioner or an authorized representative of the commissioner into a place of employment that the commissioner is authorized under this subtitle to inspect; or

(4) Discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because the employee:

(I) Makes a complaint to the employer, the commissioner, or another person;

(II) Brings an action under this subtitle or a proceeding that relates to the subject of this subtitle or causes the action or proceeding to be brought; or

(III) Has testified or will testify in an action under this subtitle or a proceeding that relates to the subject of this subtitle.

(B) Prohibited acts of employee. An employee may not:

(1) Make a groundless or malicious complaint to the commissioner or an authorized representative of the commissioner;

(2) In bad faith, bring an action under this subtitle;

(3) In bad faith, bring a proceeding that relates to the subject of this subtitle; or

(4) In bad faith, testify in an action under this subtitle or a proceeding that relates to the subject of this subtitle.

(C) Action by commissioner. The commissioner may bring an action for injunctive relief and damages against a person who violates subsection (A)(1) or (4) or subsection (B)(1), (3), or (4) of this section.

(D) Penalties. An employer who violates any provision of subsection (A)(2) or (3) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $300.

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