The Law Firm of Stephen S. Burgoon



Frederick Maryland Employment Law Blog

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.

Pregnancy and employment law in Maryland

If a pregnant woman or a woman who has just given birth needs time off from work, she may be entitled to do so under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Under this system, employees are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Individuals may need to provide 30 days' notice as well as provide a doctor's note or some other evidence of the need to take leave.

Employers who provide health coverage must continue to provide it under the same terms and conditions while an employee is out of work. As a general rule, employers may fire workers for performance reasons while out on leave. Therefore, a pregnant woman or one who has just given birth could theoretically be terminated while on maternity leave depending on the facts of the case and the timing of the termination.

Women and sexual harassment in Maryland

In a survey conducted by an advertising industry trade group, more than half of its 400 respondents who worked in the field said that they had experienced sexual harassment on the job. Furthermore, roughly half felt that they were vulnerable to sexual harassment while 40 percent said that their gender had led to being excluded from the decision-making process at work. One-third said that they had been passed over for a job because of a perceived bias against women.

While the group's entire report will be released at a later date, it felt like releasing the summary now would help stimulate a discussion about sexual harassment in the workplace. In July 2016, an executive at Saatchi & Saatchi was forced to resign after saying that the debate regarding gender equality was "all over." He also said that a lack of women leaders was the result of a lack of ambition among young people.

English-only rules and discrimination

Some businesses in Maryland have English-only language rules in place for their employees. In many cases, these rules are permissible. However, they may be considered forms of prohibited discrimination in some instances.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination based on the national origin of an employee. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is tasked with enforcing the regulations that have been written under the act, has taken a dim view of English-only orders in the workplace. The courts have been divided on these types of rules, ruling for the EEOC and the plaintiff employees in some cases and for the employers in others.

Age discrimination may become more widespread in the years ahead

Media outlets often portray the nation's job market as being the almost exclusive preserve of a new generation of young and tech savvy workers, and it may therefore be surprising for Maryland residents to learn that more than a third of the American workforce will be over 50 years of age by 2022. Nonetheless, workers with a few decades of experience under their belts face discrimination in the workplace.

Lawmakers safeguarded the rights of older workers in 1967 by passing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, but these protections have been eroded over time by a number of Supreme Court rulings. One of the most significant of these rulings came in 2009 when the nation's highest court ruled that the 1967 law's provisions only apply when age is the main cause of an employee being terminated rather than one of a number of factors.

EEOC settles a sexual orientation discrimination suit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has settled a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit with a Maryland packaging supplies company for approximately $200,000. The settlement is the first paid by an employer over accusations it demonstrated sexual orientation bias in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The EEOC filed a complaint against Pallet Cos., which operates under the name IFCO Systems, on behalf of a former employee who said she was harassed because she is a lesbian and fired when she complained. As part of the settlement, the company will pay $182,000 to the former employee. It has also agreed to donate $20,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights organization.

The rights federal law affords to pregnant employees

The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and other laws provide protection to female workers against pregnancy-related harassment or discrimination. Some pregnant workers in Maryland might not be aware of their rights, but understanding these rights could be beneficial in case they become a target.

The PDA protects workers from being fired because they are pregnant, were previously pregnant, could or intend to become pregnant, have a pregnancy-related medical condition, or had or are considering an abortion. The law also means that they cannot be demoted, overlooked for a promotion or new job position, forced to go on a leave of absence or given lesser duties for the same reasons. If pregnant workers have a hard time completing their duties, they could request accommodations from their employers under the PDA. For example, they could ask for adjusted break or work times, ergonomic office furniture, or permission to work while sitting, standing or at home.

Office Location

The Law Firm of
Stephen S. Burgoon

5235 Westview Drive, Suite 100
Frederick, MD 21703
Map & Directions

Local: 301-228-0769
Fax: 301-696-9695

Map Map