Our Maryland Employment Lawyers Explain Your Rights
In the pursuit of a safe, equitable, and productive workplace, all employees in Maryland are afforded a basic set of rights. These rights concern a wide range of employment issues, from discrimination to payment of wages to workplace safety. In many cases, employment disputes between employers and employees arise because of disagreements about the scope of these rights and whether they were violated.
For more information about rights afforded to employees in Maryland, please contact the Maryland employment lawyers at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford.
Primary Sources of Employee Rights
Maryland employees are protected by a patchwork of overlapping federal, state, and local employment laws. The most well-known and comprehensive of those include:
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): A federal law that ensures that workers are paid a minimum wage for their work. The federal government sets the floor for minimum wage and several states, including Maryland, have set a higher minimum wage requirement at the local level;
- The Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA): A federal law that sets industry-specific safety standards to which employers must adhere;
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A federal law that makes it illegal for businesses to discriminate against employees and job applicants based on certain protected classes; and
- The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): A federal law that requires employers with at least 50 employees to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off each year for illness and caregiving.
- Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act: A state law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees with regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, or disability (this is broader than the federal Civil Rights Act)
- Maryland Healthy Working Families Act: A state law that requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick and safe leave
Rights Afforded to Employees in Maryland
Some of the rights the laws above provide to workers include:
Discrimination and Harassment
It is illegal for employers in Maryland to discriminate against employees on the basis of:
- National origin
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Genetic information
- Disability (provided the disability does not affect the employee’s performance of his or her work duties)
“Discrimination” in this context can include unfair treatment, harassment (including sexual harassment), wrongful termination, or any other adverse action that is based on a protected characteristic of the target employee. Employees who feel they were discriminated against are strongly encouraged to contact the Maryland employment lawyers at our firm.
Employees in Maryland have the right to self-organize (or “unionize”) in order to engage in collective bargaining for their mutual aid and benefit without fear of retribution by their employer
Wages and Overtime
Federal law requires most employees to be paid a minimum hourly wage, with states being free to pay more than the federal minimum if they choose. As of the date of publication, Maryland’s minimum hourly wage is $10.10 — higher than the $7.25 federal minimum wage. Employees who work more than 40 hours in a week are entitled to overtime wages equal to 1.5 times their normal hourly rate.
To protect workers from unsafe, unhealthy, or unsanitary working conditions, federal and state laws require employers to ensure a baseline of workplace safety. What that baseline includes varies by industry, but generally requires employers to protect their workers from exposure to chemicals, unsafe noise levels, unsafe work practices, and excessively hot or cold conditions. It can also require employers to provide personal protective equipment to their employees.
Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
Employees in most industries are covered by workers’ compensation, which allows injured employees to receive compensation for lost wages and medical care for injuries they sustained in the course of their employment. Severely injured employees may also apply to receive Social Security Disability benefits if an injury is expected to prevent them from working for at least 12 months or result in their death.
Maryland employees have a right to privacy in their personal belongings, including handbags, briefcases, storage lockers, and personal electronic devices. An employer also may not require an employee to submit to a lie detector test or answer any questions that pertain to his or her physical or psychological health, disability, or handicap. However, employees generally are not entitled to privacy in business-related communications using company-owned equipment.
Job Applicants’ Rights in Maryland
Because job applicants have not entered into an employer-employee relationship with their prospective employers, they enjoy significantly fewer rights than employees. At the federal and state levels, Maryland job applicants have the right to be free from discrimination in the hiring process. At the state level, Maryland employers may not make hiring decisions based on the employee’s credit report, nor may they ask certain types of questions in job interviews.
Contact the Maryland Employment Lawyers at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford
All employees and job applicants have rights. If you believe yours have been violated, please contact a Maryland employment lawyer at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford for a consultation by calling 410-514-6099.