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Greenbelt MD Employment Law Blog

Employer investigation vital following discrimination claim

When an employee at a business believes that he or she has been discriminated against, that person might report the matter to his or her employer. Once a report is made, the employer needs to commence an investigation into the issue. When doing so, there are certain things the employer should keep in mind to protect itself.

The first is to take action in a timely manner. As soon as a report is received, it is a good idea to examine documentation related to the employees involved including records, reviews and any previous reports of discriminatory behavior that may exist. At this point, the case file could also include any text messages or e-mails that were sent between the parties.

Dispute between companies resolved before trial

In our last post, we discussed the fact that employers should take into consideration several things before deciding for or against litigation in the event of a dispute. Failing to do so could wind up costing an employer much more than money.

Thankfully, many people have the help of an attorney when they find themselves involved in an employment dispute. An attorney can help people assess the reality of the situation and take a look at the bigger picture. Oftentimes, this means negotiating a settlement and avoiding litigation. That appears to be the route one company took recently.

3 things employers should consider when faced with disputes

As many business owners in Maryland know, difficult decisions are rarely black-and-white. Many decisions can be reached only after considering several potential solutions, predicting the short- and long-term repercussions of each option and weighing the pros and cons.

The same can be said when it comes to resolving employment disputes. Employers may be tempted to believe or misled into thinking that they only have two options: fight against allegations in court or offer up a significant settlement to the plaintiff. However, there are many different ways that these situations are resolved that fall somewhere in the middle. So, before you make a snap decision that could ultimately work against you as an employer, you should stop and consider a few important things.

Does every employee need to be paid minimum wage?

If you are an employer in Maryland who has employees receiving minimum wage, you should have recently revisited your payment structures. This is because as of July 2015, the state minimum wage increased from $8.00 to $8.25 per hour. 

That quarter-dollar increase may not seem like that big of a deal, but to the employees collecting the paycheck, it can make a huge difference. Additionally, employers who failed to adjust wages since the increase could face serious penalties for wage violations. However, it is important to keep in mind that not every single employer in this state is required to pay employees minimum wage. There are some important exceptions.

When dealing with sexual harassment, one step isn't enough

The importance of taking swift and deliberate action in light of sexual harassment claims on the job cannot be overstated. Employers are supposed to take these types of allegations very seriously and make a reasonable effort to investigate the claims and enforce any consequences, if necessary.

However, too many employers make the mistake of thinking that they can do these things and then forget all about an incident involving harassment. This can be an unwise decision as there could still be penalties for employers whose efforts to combat harassment, while present, do not go far enough in protecting employees.

What to do if an employee claims a termination was wrongful

Letting an employee go can be a very unpleasant and difficult decision for any employer, but it is often a necessary aspect of owning a business and managing employees.

In some cases, firing someone is fairly straightforward and the employee leaves the job without pushing back. In other cases, an employee can be very upset and threaten to take legal action because he or she believes the firing is wrongful.

What are trade secrets and how can I protect mine as an employer?

As an employer, one of your top priorities likely has something to do with protecting a company and taking steps to help it grow. How you go about doing this depends on a number of different factors but one option you may want to consider is to make sure a company's trade secrets are protected.

You may not know if you even have trade secrets that need protecting. After all, most companies think they have something unique that sets them apart, but not all information qualifies as a trade secret. Generally speaking, if you have a product, service, tool or data that is valuable, not publicly available and makes your company distinct from other companies, it may very well be a trade secret.

How the same-sex marriage ruling affects employers

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court made an historic ruling. It was decided that all states are required to both allow and recognize same-sex marriages. While the ruling has an undeniably profound impact on the right to marry and have a marriage recognized by state governments, it also has a dramatic impact on the rights of gay and lesbian employees.

Since 2013, gay and lesbian couples in Maryland have been able to legally wed and have had access to the many federal benefits available to employees in opposite-sex marriages. But state laws varied considerably; companies in other states were not required to offer the same benefits to gay and lesbian employees as they did to straight employees. The recent ruling will change that. 

Paid sick leave approved in Montgomery County

The Montgomery County Council has unanimously passed an ordinance that requires employers to begin providing paid sick and safe leave to employees.

If you employ five or more employees in Montgomery County, then starting on Oct. 1, 2016, you will be required to provide up to 56 hours of paid leave per year. If you employ fewer than five employees, then you will be required to provide up to 32 hours of paid leave and 24 hours of unpaid leave.

Report highlights wage gap that could be closed with legislation

There are numerous federal employment laws that dictate how and when employers and employees are protected from certain actions, from being mistreated on the job to theft of sensitive information. However, there is at least one notable protection that is lacking on a federal level in this country: protection against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Despite repeated attempts over the years, federal legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate against people in the LGBT community has yet to be passed. Because of this, according to reports, there exists a concerning "gay-straight wage gap."

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