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How Maryland protects employees from sexual harassment

The Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provide people with the necessary legal basis to bring suits against others for sexual harassment. The MFEP applies to Maryland employers, labor organizations and employment agencies. Membership clubs, elected officials, religious corporations, educational institutions, associations and societies are not covered under this law.

In Maryland, sexual harassment is defined as any behavior of a sexual nature that impairs an individual's ability to perform their job or creates a working environment that is hostile or intimidating. It extends to include sexual pressure or attention of any kind while in the work place, such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for favors of a sexual nature, demeaning or crude behavior or unnecessary touching. The Maryland Commission on Human Relations enforces state laws regarding sexual harassment.

The state has a deadline on filing claims. People are only allowed six months from the date of the last discriminatory act or event to notify the agency and start the process. In order to bring a claim, the plaintiff must have been subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment or advancements, and the harassment must have been pervasive or serious enough to create an abusive working environment. The employer or defendant should have been made aware that sexual harassment was occurring and failed to take appropriate action to stop the activity.

When it comes to any sexual harassment claim, the courts will require that the plaintiff follow their guidelines. An attorney experienced in this type of case may be able to help plaintiffs assemble the necessary information, including whether management was aware of the illegal activity, that the harassment was based on the plaintiff's sex and that the plaintiff suffered harm as a result. Some employers may try to provide other reasons for actions that were taken against a plaintiff while on the job, but an attorney may be able to help plaintiffs ferret out the truth and present that information to the courts.

Source: The WAGE Project, "Sexual Harassment", October 06, 2014

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