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April 18, 2018

Maryland Adopts New Sexual Harassment Protections

By:  David Burkhouse, Esquire

With the Maryland Legislature’s passage of the Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018, SB1010, Maryland employers will face new restrictions in drafting, renewing, or extending employment agreements. Effective October 1, 2018, any provision in an employment agreement which waives any procedural or substantive right to a claim for a future instance of sexual harassment or claim for future retaliation related to reporting an instance of sexual harassment is void. In addition employers are broadly precluded from taking any adverse action against an employee for refusing to enter into an agreement containing an impermissible waiver provision. Furthermore, employers who attempt to enforce any such impermissible waiver provisions shall be liable for the employee’s attorney’s fees.  

In addition, employers with over fifty employees shall be required to complete and submit a survey to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights listing (1) the number settlements an employer has made for sexual harassment, (2) the number times the employer has entered into a settlement in the past ten years involving an allegation against the same employee, and (3) the number of settlements that included a confidentiality provision. Each employer’s survey response shall be publically available via a request under the Maryland Public Information Act.

Based on these new requirements, employers should review existing employment agreements for potentially impermissible waiver provisions including jury trial waivers and arbitration clauses. In addition, new contracts and contract renewals should be carefully drafted to ensure that retained waiver provisions do not run afoul of the Act’s new requirements. PK Law is ready to assist you in ensuring that your employment agreements are legal, enforceable, and meet your business needs.

 

Mr. Burkhouse is a Member with PK Law and is part of the firm’s Education, Labor and Employment Group. As part of Mr. Burkhouse’s employment law practice he counsels and represents employers regarding employment discrimination claims arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Mr. Burkhouse also advises employers with regard to non-compete agreements, restrictive covenants, arbitration agreements, trade secrets, confidentiality agreements, and employee hiring and termination procedures.  Mr. Burkhouse can be reached at (410) 740-3150 or dburkhouse@pklaw.com.