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New Maryland Disclosing Sexual Harassment Act Takes Effect in 2018

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 Rights (MCCR):

  • How many settlements the employer has made after an employee alleges sexual harassment
  • 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.

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