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Greenbelt MD Employment Law Blog

Not all claims of sexual harassment legally actionable

There are employers across Maryland who take workplace behaviors very seriously. They do whatever they can to provide a safe and fair work environment for every employee. However, even these employers can end up facing allegations of serious violations including sexual harassment. But it is important to remember that not every claim is legally actionable.

People do not always understand what exactly sexual harassment is or if they can in fact take legal action against an employer. Whenever the issue comes up, employees and employers can be confused about what rights are in place to protect both the alleged victims and the alleged perpetrators.

Maryland employers: Are your employment practices discriminatory?

Discrimination in the workplace is something that every person probably thinks they understand. However, there are many misconceptions on the issues. For example, people might think that if a woman gets hired for a job instead of a man, it is automatically considered discrimination. Or they believe that someone of a certain age or race cannot be fired. 

These scenarios are not necessarily discriminatory at face value; but if employment practices effectively treat some applicants or workers better than others, it could be considered discrimination. In the scenarios mentioned above, employers could face serious consequences if they only seek and hire females or if the decision to fire someone is based on age and not his or her job performance.

Two sides to every discrimination claim

When we read about workplace discrimination in the news, it is often from the perspective of the alleged victim. However, every discrimination case has two sides: the alleged victim's and the employer's. It is crucial to remember that both sides have the right to present their case in the courtroom, even if their stances are not equally considered in the media. 

A case playing out in another state should be a good reminder to Maryland readers that discrimination claims often consist of two very different accounts. It also serves as a reminder of how important it can be for employers to have skilled legal representation in the event that they are facing accusations of discriminatory practices.

Ikea makes surprising wage announcement

There are significant differences between large companies and small businesses. But no matter how big or small an organization is, there are similar challenges that each faces when it comes to being successful.

One such challenge is determining how much to pay workers. Of course these wages must comply with state and federal guidelines, but each company also has to balance what they can pay workers with what they need to be successful. No matter what size a business is, it can be very difficult to make sweeping changes to wage structures; it is crucial that these decisions are informed and lawful. 

American Apparel founder fired after string of harassment claims

When a person's actions are damaging to his or her employer's reputation, it can lead to some ugly confrontations and difficult decisions. However, before a company makes any serious or controversial decision, it may be in the company's best interest to first consult an attorney in order to avoid allegations of discrimination or wrongful termination.

That is the situation facing clothing company American Apparel. Reports indicate that the 45-year-old founder of the company was recently fired after the board of directors decided that his repeated instances of misconduct were negatively impacting the brand. However, the founder is fighting back and promises that unless he is reinstated, he will be filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against the company.

Maryland employers: Do you need to reconsider a noncompete?

Maryland employers will generally take whatever steps they can to protect their business. In many cases, employers may be considering whether they should have employees sign an employment contract, such as a noncompete agreement. These agreements can limit the employment opportunities workers have should they leave the company. 

Historically, the companies that generally utilized noncompete agreements were those in the technology or creative industries with highly sensitive or unique products or services. In order to avoid the possibility of an employee from leaving a company to work for a competitor and taking client lists, trade secrets and other critical data with them, many businesses had workers sign an agreement that banned them from working for certain companies for a specified time period.

But is the use of noncompete agreements getting out of hand?

Will case against Snoop Dogg be dropped like it's hot?

Working in a non-traditional job or industry can be exciting. Rather than sitting at a desk and working the typical eight-hour work day, people who work in certain positions can have a more flexible schedule and opportunities that they would not enjoy in another field. However, there are some unique challenges that can arise in these environments.

One challenge that employers can come up against in regards to non-traditional positions involves wage and hour laws. Jobs that do not require workers to clock in and out or work from 9:00 to 5:00 are still covered by state and federal laws and workers are protected from retaliatory actions if they file a complaint about wage violations; however, there can be considerable confusion if work schedules and payment structures are inconsistent.

Age is more than just a number in discrimination lawsuits

Employers and employees in Maryland should be aware that discrimination at work can be grounds for a lawsuit. A person who is mistreated, denied employment opportunities or fired based on their age, race, religion, sex, national origin or disability may have the option of filing a lawsuit against an employer.

These cases can be complicated and the two sides may have dramatically different takes on the situation. An employer may feel confident that their decisions are lawful, but an employee may have evidence to support claims that he or she has been the victim of discrimination in the workplace. An example of this dynamic can be seen in a recent case involving a man who was fired. He claims his termination violated his rights while the employer argues that they were justified in letting the man go.

Law protecting transgender Marylanders to take effect this fall

Transgender Marylanders can no longer legally be discriminated against in employment, public accommodations, credit or housing thanks to a law signed on May 15 by Gov. Martin O'Malley. The bill was passed in both the Maryland Senate and the House of Delegates in March by comfortable margins.

Gov. O'Malley's signature of the Fairness for All Marylanders Act into law was applauded by transgender rights advocates like the Maryland Coalition for Transgender Equality. An attorney for FreeState Legal, one the groups in the MCTE, said, "It's been a long time coming, to enact into law fairness for all transgender Marylanders in all walks of public life."

The basics of wrongful termination claims

The law generally protects workers against grossly unfair treatment by employers. However, employment law tends to be quite nuanced. As a result, employees are not protected against every instance of grossly unfair treatment by their employers. It is therefore important to consult an experienced employment law attorney if you have been subjected to discriminatory treatment on the job or have potentially been the subject of wrongful termination. An attorney will be able to advise you about whether or not you may hold your employer accountable for his or her actions.

For the most part, American employees are hired on an at-will basis. Practically, this status means that employers may terminate employees for a multitude of reasons. However, the at-will status of employees does not entitle employers to behave in discriminatory ways. As a result, employees may generally sue for wrongful termination if their employers fire them for discriminatory reasons or if employees are protected by certain whistle blower provisions.

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