Employment law provides protection for workers from hiring to firing. This body of law includes both federal and state rules. Here are points you should be aware of if you work in Maryland.
Help wanted ads, interviews, and hiring decisions cannot be discriminatory. Employers can't consider factors such as race, color, religion, disability, age, gender or pregnancy when interviewing and making hiring decisions. Some interview questions are unlawful, such as whether you're pregnant, whether you attend church, where you attend church, and whether you suffer from any disabilities.
Minimum Wage and Overtime
Federal law establishes minimum wage and overtime rules to cover most, but not all, employees. States can set their own minimum wage and overtime laws as well, and they may offer greater protection than federal rules. Maryland has its own laws and they're on par with federal statutes.
Employers must provide safe working environments. They can't terminate employees for pointing out unsafe work conditions such as pollutants, faulty equipment, lack of safety devices, exposure or contamination.
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides replacement income and medical protection to employees who are hurt in the course of their employment. In exchange, employees give up the right to sue for personal injuries. Workers’ compensation provides qualified and eligible employees with medical treatment and partial income replacement until they can return to their jobs or until they reach maximum medical improvement. Employers with one or more employees are required by law to carry workers’ compensation coverage.
Some types of leave are required by federal law, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act. Maryland also has a Flexible Leave Act of its own. You can have up to two hours of paid leave to vote in this state if you provide proof that you did vote or at least attempted to do so. You can obtain the approval form from the Maryland Board of Elections. Some smaller employers may not be required to comply with this rule.
All forms of harassment are illegal pursuant to federal law. Harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation or retaliation. The conduct rises to the level of harassment when it's severe enough to create a hostile work environment or a supervisor’s conduct creates a tangible change in an employee’s status or benefits. Harassment includes but isn’t limited to sexual harassment.
Like most states, Maryland offers “at will” employment. Unless a contract specifically states otherwise, either party can end the employment relationship for almost any reason. Employers can't fire workers for illegal reasons, however, such as discriminatory issues based on age, gender, race, national origin, or disability. They can't fire anyone because he filed a workers’ compensation claim, because he demanded proper wages or overtime pay, because he took time for medical reasons or to care for a family member, because he's a whistleblower, or because he did anything that's protected by law. The state requires that employers include unused vacation time pay in terminated employees’ final paychecks.
After employment ends, employees might still be eligible for benefits such as unemployment and COBRA, although small companies may be exempt from these rules.
Employment and Labor Lawyers Can Help
Employment law is complicated. If you have questions about your job situation, speak with a Maryland employment lawyer.