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Update on Anti-Discrimination Law in Maryland

Published by on May 20, 2008

On October 1, 2007, amendments to the Maryland anti-discrimination statute (Article 49B) went into effect.  The Maryland Commission on Human Relations has a new FAQ on the law here.   For employment purposes, protected classifications under the law include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability and genetic information.  The law opens a […]

On October 1, 2007, amendments to the Maryland anti-discrimination statute (Article 49B) went into effect.  The Maryland Commission on Human Relations has a new FAQ on the law here.   For employment purposes, protected classifications under the law include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability and genetic information.  The law opens a new era in Maryland as employment discrimination plaintiffs will now have a cause of action in state court.

The most significant amendments to the law allow employees to bring lawsuits under the statute in state court after 180 days have elapsed since the filing of a charge of discrimination.  Claimants may seek compensatory and punitive damages in addition to back pay.  The law contains damage caps similar to those under federal law (Title VII) but does allow to uncapped back pay awards.  Again, similar to Title VII, the law covers employers with over fifteen employees.

Maryland employers should make sure that their policies are up to date on the applicable protected classifications under both state and local law.  The changes to the law also make 2008 a good time to conduct refresher training for managers on the discrimination laws and your company’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.  (If you don’t have one in place, start on one now!)

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