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Maryland's governor signs bills addressing sexual harassment

Maryland continues to make a stronger move toward combating sexual harassment in the workplace as Gov. Larry Hogan recently signed into law two acts - one that addresses sexual harassment matters within the state's General Assembly, and the other focused on employers with 50 or more workers.

It's another sign that the #MeToo movement continues to make waves across the country and within our culture. Both bills were signed within a week of each other.

On May 8, Hogan signed legislation that updated sexual harassment guidelines within the state government General Assembly. Exactly a week later, the governor signed the "Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018" that, among other matters, requires employers with 50 or more workers to disclose information related to sexual harassment settlements.

Misbehavior by elected government members

The first law strengthened the rules on sexual harassment within the state's General Assembly, Maryland's governing body that has had a longstanding reputation for tolerance of sexual harassment. For years, female lawmakers, staff members and interns have dealt with uncomfortable and abusive situations including sexual harassment.

The bill had been unanimously approved by Maryland's House of Delegates and Senate, and awaited signature from the governor. Among its requirements are that an independent investigator oversee sexual harassment complaints that involve statehouse employees.

Bans private arbitration

Then on May 15, Gov. Hogan signed into law addressing workplaces and how they deal with sexual harassment. The "Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018" is set to take effect on Oct. 1. The main aspects of this bill include:

  • Prohibiting Maryland employers from requiring employees to go through a private arbitration process to address sexual harassment claims.
  • Requiring employers with 50 or more workers to be forthcoming and disclose information related to sexual harassment settlements involving the company and its employees.

Will these new laws influence society? Will they be able to better protect employees? That is the hope. Their implementation may be the first of several steps in stamping out workplace sexual harassment.

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