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Maryland Employers, Are You Ready? New Sexual Harassment Law Takes Effect October 1

Maryland’s “Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018” takes effect on October 1, 2018. The Act prohibits certain waivers related to an employee’s future sexual harassment claims and future retaliation claims for making a sexual harassment claim. It also requires employers with at least 50 employees to complete a survey disclosing the number of sexual harassment settlements in which the employer has entered.

Full Disclosure: Maryland’s New #MeToo Law May Do Little to Expose Workplace Harassment

In reaction to a litany of high-profile scandals, Maryland has joined a growing number of states in enacting legislation intended to prevent employers from sheltering perpetrators of sexual harassment. Approved by Governor Larry Hogan on May 15, 2018, the Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018 (DSHWA) purports to ban employment contracts requiring sexual harassment claims to be resolved through private arbitration. It also mandates that large employers report certain information about sexual harassment settlements to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, which in turn can make some of that information available to the public. Hampered by weak enforcement provisions and faced with a potential preemption challenge, however, DSHWA may not have a significant impact on current employer strategies for avoiding and managing sexual harassment claims.

Sexual Harassment Claims Gain More Transparency Under Maryland Law, Uber Policy

The #MeToo movement revealed that a culture of sexual harassment thrives in secrecy and that bringing sexual harassment and misconduct claims to light is essential to ending these unlawful practices. To that end, Congress disallowed taking as a business deduction the cost of any settlement of a sexual harassment case that includes a nondisclosure agreement and many states, like New York, are enacting new laws targeting employers that hide sexual harassment settlements.

Mandatory Sick Leave Trend Gains Steam as Maryland Joins the Fold

The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act — which establishes mandatory sick leave in Maryland — takes effect on February 11, 2018. Although the act had been vetoed by Governor Hogan in 2017, the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates successfully voted to override the veto earlier this year.

Maryland’s New Sick and Safe Leave Law Scheduled to Take Effect in February

On January 12, 2018, the Maryland General Assembly overrode Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s May 25, 2017 veto of legislation requiring Maryland employers to provide sick and safe leave to their employees. By overriding the governor’s veto, the general assembly made Maryland the ninth state to adopt a mandatory sick leave statute. Maryland’s legislation, known as the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, provides employees with up to 40 hours of sick and safe leave annually. Unless the general assembly delays the Act’s effective date, employers will need to conform their leave policies on or before February 11, 2018.

Maryland Paid Sick Leave Effective February 12

Certain Maryland employers must begin offering paid sick and safe leave to their employees under the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act beginning February 12, 2018.

Maryland Becomes the Latest State to Require Paid Sick and Safe Leave

On January 12, 2018, the Maryland legislature overrode Governor Larry Hogan’s (R) 2017 veto of the Healthy Working Families Act, Maryland HB 1 (“the Act”), enacting legislation that requires Maryland businesses to provide covered employees with sick and safe leave. The Act says it preempts local sick and safe leave laws that were enacted on or after January 1, 2017, which may include the Prince George’s County law.1 However, Montgomery County’s law will remain in effect.2 The Act is scheduled to become effective on February 11, 2018.

Maryland Paid Sick Leave Law Passed Over Governor's Veto

The Maryland General Assembly has voted to override Governor Larry Hogan's veto of a 2017 bill to enact the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (HWFA). The governor had vetoed the bill at the end of the 2017 legislative session, stating that its one-size-fits-all approach would harm small businesses.

The Layers of the Paid Sick Leave Law in Montgomery County, Maryland

On October 1, 2016, Montgomery County’s Earned Sick and Safe Leave law became effective. This law allows all employees, with few exceptions, that work in Montgomery County, Maryland, to accrue paid and/or unpaid sick and safe leave, depending on the size of their employer, to use for their own illness, an illness of a family member and (originally) five other specific reasons. Since its passage the Montgomery County Council has amended the law once and is considering a further amendment.

Montgomery County Sick and Safe Leave Law Amended to Permit Use for Birth, Adoption, Foster Care, and Bonding

Effective immediately, employers in Montgomery County, Maryland must allow eligible employees in the County to use up to 56 hours of paid sick and safe leave provided under Montgomery County’s sick and safe leave law for birth, adoption, foster care, or bonding with the employee’s child. The County Council adopted this measure to bridge gaps in employees’ ability to use paid leave for various combinations of parental leave under federal and state laws.