Maryland has comprehensive legislation prohibiting any kind of workplace discrimination including sexual harassment. Unlike other states, some major municipalities also have additional anti-discrimination ordinances of their own.
Federal laws also work in parallel to state laws. If you have experienced any form of discrimination or harassment at your workplace you are entitled to file a complaint with a local, state or federal agency dealing with employment discrimination cases.
What Kind of Discrimination Laws Are in Place in Maryland?
There are three levels of employment discrimination laws in Maryland: local municipality ordinances, the state laws and federal laws. The state’s own legislation is covered by article §20-602 of the Maryland Annotated Code and the Crown Act.
Federal legislation includes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Equal Pay Act and the Rehabilitation Act. The latter is designed to protect those with disabilities.
Who is Protected by Federal and State Laws in Maryland?
The combination of local, state and federal anti-discrimination laws provide comprehensive protection against workplace discrimination and harassment, including the following categories:
- age (the ADEA for workers over 40),
- gender identity,
- genetic identity,
- marital status,
- national origin (ancestry)
- sexual orientation.
The different laws and the agencies they deal with are broadly comparable, but if you are unsure whether the category you belong to is a “protected class” you should check which agency to file your complaint with first.
What Employers are Covered by Discrimination Laws in Maryland?
State and federal laws apply only to discrimination in a place of employment of 15 or more employees. However, as several municipalities have their own discrimination ordinances you may be able to file your claim with one of these even if you work in a smaller workplace which is not covered by state or federal laws.
Which Maryland Agencies Regulate These Laws?
There are several different agencies in Maryland which regulate discrimination laws. The official state body is the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR), which has offices in Baltimore and several other cities across the state.
There are also variously named human rights agencies or commissions in Montgomery, Frederick, Howard, Baltimore and Prince George’s counties. The federal agency in charge of administering federal discrimination laws is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), which has an office in Baltimore.
How do I File a Discrimination Claim in Maryland?
You have a wide choice of agencies within the state to file a complaint with, so it is best to check which agency to use before filing.
State and federal agencies have a work-sharing agreement so it is not necessary to file a claim with more than one agency. You can use the EEOC’s online service if it is not convenient to attend the Baltimore office.
When you file your discrimination complaint it is best to include as much relevant information as possible to make it easier for officials to assess and investigate your case.
Once a complaint has been received, it will ordinarily be investigated. This may mean arranging a mediation session and interviews with your employer or witnesses.
The agency will attempt to assess whether there has been a breach of employment discrimination law and resolve the issue before considering imposing penalties.
If no resolution is possible you may then be given permission to file a civil lawsuit in a state or federal court with the help of a lawyer.
How Long Do I Have to File an Employment Discrimination Claim in Maryland?
The statute of limitation for discrimination claims depends on the agency you file your claim with. The MCCR has a time limit of six months from the date of the act of discrimination to file your claim in, while the EEOC gives you 300 days.
The EEOC also has a time limit on filing a lawsuit in a federal court of 90 days from the date you receive a “Right to Sue letter from them. Each municipality has its own time limits to either file a claim or bring the case to a court in the form of a lawsuit.
How Do I Get Help Filing an Employment Discrimination Claim in Maryland?
You may not need a lawyer if your case can be resolved through the MCCR or EEOC, but if you need to take the complaint further, this will mean preparing the ground for a lawsuit.
You are strongly advised to use an employment lawyer in that case. Use the free case evaluation form to find a suitable lawyer near you.