The Law Firm of Stephen S. Burgoon



Frederick Maryland Employment Law Blog

Maryland lawmakers address sexual harassment within

For the last few months, the #MeToo movement has gradually grown stronger within the Maryland General Assembly, a place not only known for its lawmakers, but also for its longstanding acceptance of sexual harassment among its members.

Female lawmakers, staff members and interns within the General Assembly for years have dealt with awkward, uncomfortable and abusive situations that can only be considered flat-out sexual harassment. Recently, the Maryland House of Delegates took a bolder step to protect its own and send a message to the rest of the state: sexual harassment will not be tolerated.

Fired for pregnancy: handling an unspoken form of discrimination

Although often a joyous time, pregnancy presents an array of challenges for working women. Pregnant women may need more time away from work for doctor's visits or small accommodations to continue working. Sadly, employers often view pregnant employees as a liability. Rather than making simple accommodations, employers chose to terminate the employee or force them to take unpaid leave.

Why Does Reporting Harassment Protect My Rights?

If you’ve been a victim of harassment in the workplace, you may feel alone and stuck, wondering what to do. It is scary to report harassment in the workplace because a fear of the unknown and a need for the money that steady employment brings, but reporting harassment compliant with company policy will protect your rights at work and with the law.

Are You Familiar With Your Employer’s Reporting Policies?

The right to work in a sexual harassment-free environment

Few female workers have the courage to move forward with a complaint about sexual harassment, but the #MeToo movement may have changed things.

At least we hope so. Since launching late last year, #MeToo – with roots in the entertainment industry – has women around the world standing in solidarity to denounce sexual harassment and assault that happened in their lives, including the workplace.

Sexual harassment still haunts Maryland victims

It seems that every day, a new public figure is accused of sexual harassment. On one hand, this is a positive thing-- it indicates that victims of sexual harassment are finally comfortable coming forward, that sexual abusers are being held accountable and that the media is not ignoring the problem. On the other hand, it also means that sexual harassment is still alive and well.

The cases have had an unintended consequence: Many sexual harassment victims once again feel traumatized and emotionally overwhelmed. As demonstrated by a recent article in the Frederick News Post, many Frederick women who have been sexually harassed must now relive their trauma as new allegations stream forward.

Harassment cases highlighting ineffectiveness of HR

One of the main facets of a Human Resources (HR) department is resolving workplace conflict. The HR team works to find ways to keep staff and managers content, while helping to prevent and correct infractions. In theory, you should feel like you can report any problems at work to HR and get help resolving them, but what happens when the HR department is contributing to the problem?

Corporations both large and small have anti harassment policies and workshops to teach employees about how harassment can happen in order to avoid it, yet it persists. The abundance of recent sexual harassment complaints has illustrated the issues with reporting complaints to HR. Complaints are often ignored or not taken seriously.

Ruling in transgender bathroom ban case

According to a ruling handed down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, the Clark County School District discriminated against a transgender male employee when it prevented him from using both the women's and men's work restrooms. Maryland residents might find it interesting that the court's decision was based on its interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission believes that the protections afforded by Title VII include the right of transgender individuals to use the appropriate restroom according to their gender identity. However, the decision by the district court is believed to be the first one that is in accord with the EEOC's position. An LGBT advocacy group hailed the decision as a major victory for transgender individuals.

Disability discrimination claims are on the rise

Disabled workers in Maryland face many challenges when they are looking for work. Job prospects can be limited for them because many job tasks require physical abilities that they don't have. Even if job functions can be performed by a disabled worker or altered to accommodate a disabled worker, employers may discriminate against job applicants based on their disabilities.

Employers are legally required to make reasonable accommodations to allow disabled workers to stay employed. If an employer does not accommodate a worker with a disability, the employer could be sued for disability discrimination. Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 26,968 claims filed by workers who had been discriminated against for their disabilities. Disability-based discrimination claims made up 30 percent of all discrimination claims that were filed in 2015.

LGBTQ entrepreneurs still facing discrimination

According to a study released in September by StartOut, LGBTQ individuals in Maryland and across the U.S. are still facing discrimination in the business world. Experts say that this problem is highly prevalent in the world of startup companies and exists even in states with laws that don't outright permit discrimination.

StartOut, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of LGBTQ entrepreneurs, pointed out in its recent study that more than half of all U.S. states allow employers to fire workers based on sexual orientation. The study also discovered that nationwide, some 37 percent of LGBTQ entrepreneurs felt it necessary to hide details about their sexuality because they believed that being open would negatively impact their ability to obtain funding.

Age discrimination and older workers

Despite the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, older people in Maryland and throughout the country may face age discrimination when they are looking for work. While the August 2016 unemployment rate for workers over the age of 55 looks low at 3.5 percent, it rises to 8.7 percent when people who have stopped seeking work and those who want full-time work but are only working part time are included. Including workers who stopped looking for a job after mroe than 4 weeks pushes the total up to 12 percent, according to New School researchers.

An AARP study found that about 66 percent of older workers believe they face discrimination in the workplace, and some studies have backed this up. Researchers at Tulane University and the University of California found that the callback rate for workers between the ages of 49 to 51 in administrative work was 29 percent lower than that of younger workers. For workers older than 64, it was 47 percent lower.

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The Law Firm of
Stephen S. Burgoon

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Frederick, MD 21704
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