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Maryland Creates New Employee-Union Privilege

Published by on November 19, 2012

As of October 1, 2012, certain communications between employees and union representatives may now be protected from disclosure in legal proceedings.  Maryland enacted a statute May 2, 2012, that provides protection similar to that of the attorney-client privilege for communications made in confidence between an employee and a union and/or union representative where the union represented […]

As of October 1, 2012, certain communications between employees and union representatives may now be protected from disclosure in legal proceedings.  Maryland enacted a statute May 2, 2012, that provides protection similar to that of the attorney-client privilege for communications made in confidence between an employee and a union and/or union representative where the union represented the employee in a workplace grievance and the communication is germane to the grievance.  More after the break.

The privilege is somewhat narrow in that it applies only to the extent that the employee’s grievance is the subject matter of an investigation, grievance proceeding, or a civil court, administrative, arbitration, or other civil proceeding.  Criminal proceedings are excluded.  The law protects only the communication itself, and not the facts underlying the communication. Furthermore, a union must disclose a communication to the employer as soon as possible if the union believes it necessary to prevent certain death or substantial bodily harm.

Maryland is not the first jurisdiction to recognize this type of privilege.  A similar law exists in Illinois dating back to 2005.

The Maryland law is codifed as § 9-124 of the Maryland Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article, “Confidentiality of communications or information of labor organizations.”

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