The #MeToo movement has helped create social awareness and shine a spotlight
on the ongoing problem with sexual harassment in the workplace. In addition,
it has forced employers to take a look at their sexual harassment policies,
and now the government has set forth new legal requirements for employers
in Maryland. The
New Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018 (the Act) becomes effective October 1, 2018. On May 15, 2018, Governor
Hogan signed the new law, which will prohibit employers from adding certain
terms to employment and other related contracts and agreements, and it
sets forth reporting requirements regarding sexual harassment settlements.
No Waiver of Rights or Remedies Connected to Future Sexual Harassment Claims
The first requirement of the Act deals with contractual provisions that
require any claim of sexual harassment be settled through the use of arbitration.
Unless prohibited by federal law, the Act will forbid all Maryland employers
who enter into, extend, or renew arbitration agreements after October
1 from requiring its employees to waive their “substantive right
or remedy” that relates to a future claim of sexual harassment or
any retaliation if they reported the sexual harassment.
In other words, employers cannot require their employees to sign an agreement
that contains any limitations of their rights, and they cannot take any
adverse action if the employee refuses to sign the agreement. Adverse
action is described as demotion, suspension, discrimination, discharge,
or retaliation. Any employer who attempts to force these prohibited waivers
into an employment agreement, a policy, or any other work-related agreement
could be liable for the employee’s attorneys’ costs and fees.
Reporting Requirements and Publication of Sexual Harassment Settlements
The Act also states that any employer who has 50 or more employees has
to report any history of sexual harassment settlements. The employer must
disclose the following information to the Maryland Commission on Civil
- How many settlements the employer has made after an employee alleges sexual
- How many times has the employer paid to resolve a sexual harassment claim
against this particular employee over the past 10 years
- How many settlements has the employer made after any alleged sexual harassment
that was subject to non-disclosure provisions
- Details on what personnel action the employer took against the employee
who was the subject of the sexual harassment settlement
The survey will be conducted in 2020 and 2022, and then the MCCR will make
the information available to the public, but not the identities of the
victims or alleged perpetrators. Only the employer’s identities
will be released.
Retaining a Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, or any other type of harassment
at work, you need to speak with a skilled
Maryland personal injury attorney. Our team at the Law Office of Robert R. Castro has decades of experience
with all areas of personal injury matters, as well as other employment
related issues like
workers’ compensation claims. Contact our office at 301-870-1200 to schedule a consultation.