July 15th, 2019
New Employment Laws Passed During Maryland’s 2019 Legislative Session
Author: Darla J. McClure
Numerous laws affecting employers were passed during the 2019 Maryland legislative session and will go into effect in the coming months.
Laws Going Into Effect on Oct. 1, 2019
Gender Diversity Law
This new law “Gender Diversity in the Boardroom” requires Companies with more than $5 million in sales, or non-profits with an operating budget exceeding $5 million, to report the total number of members on its Board of Directors as well as the total number of female Board members. This reporting is done on the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation Annual Report of the Personal Property Return Form -1. Although not part of the statute, the General Assembly urges Companies to have 30% representation of women on their Boards by December 31, 2022.
Non-Compete and Conflict of Interest Clauses
This new law prohibits employers from entering into non-competition agreements, or including conflict of interest provisions in employment agreements, with employees who earn equal to or less than $15.00 per hour or $31,200 annually. Such agreements will be deemed null and void as against public policy as such would “restrict the ability of an employee to enter into employment with a new employer or to become self-employed in the same or similar business or trade….”
Organ and Bone Marrow Donation Leave
This new law applies to employers who have 15 or more employees and requires qualifying employers to provide unpaid leave for eligible employees who are an organ or bone marrow donor where there is a medical necessity for the donation of the organ or bone marrow as documented by a physician. The law requires up to 60 days of leave in any 12-month period to serve as an organ donor and up to 30 days of leave in any 12-month period to serve as a bone marrow donor. This leave does not run concurrently with FMLA leave and the employee must be restored to his/her position of employment held when the donation leave began or to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment. An eligible employee is one who has been employed for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.
Workplace Harassment Law
Maryland has expanded its antidiscrimination law to now include “harassment” based on race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin, sex age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. This expansion of the law, which goes into effect on October 1, 2019, applies to employer’s who employ at least one employee (as opposed to 15 employees with regard to allegation of discrimination based on these same characteristics). The definition of employee is also expanded in that it includes independent contractors. In addition, the law specifically provides that, in the case of harassment, an employer is liable if the negligence of the employer led to the harassment or continued harassment or if one of its employees:
- Engages in the harassment and such employee undertakes or recommends tangible employment actions affecting the complaining employee, or
- Directs, supervises or evaluates the work activities of the complaining employee.
Given the language of this newly expanded harassment law it makes more sense now than ever to train your supervisors and those who evaluate employees. Employees have two years to file a complaint with the Commission and up to three years to file a civil action.
Laws Going Into Effect on January 1, 2020
Ban the Box
Ban the box law prohibits employers who have at least 15 employees to ask about an applicant’s criminal history. The “box” refers to the box applicant’s check on an application that they do or do not have a criminal record. While you can’t ask about an applicant’s criminal record at the application phase, once you have the first in-person interview you may inquire about an applicant’s criminal history.
Minimum Wage Increases
Maryland employers with at least 15 employees will have to pay employees an increased minimum wage starting on January 1, 2020, to arrive at $15.00 per hour by 2025. Employers with fewer than 15 employees will have an extra year to get to $15.00 per hour.
The following applies to those employers with 15 or more employees:
|January 1, 2020||$11.00|
|January 1, 2021||$11.75|
|January 1, 2022||$12.50|
|January 1, 2023||$13.25|
|January 1, 2024||$14.00|
|January 1, 2025||$15.00|
Employers with less than 15 employees:
|January 1, 2020||$11.00|
|January 1, 2021||$11.60|
|January 1, 2022||$12.20|
|January 1, 2023||$12.80|
|January 1, 2024||$13.40|
|January 1, 2025||$14.00|
|January 1, 2026||$14.60|
|July 1, 2026||$15.00|
If an employee is under the age of 18 employers may pay a minimum wage equal to 85% of the state’s minimum wage.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss further any of these new laws please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our employment law attorneys.