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Sexual Harassment 

Justice starts today with a confidential lawyer consultation.

Sexual harassment in the Maryland workplace is illegal—yet common.

 

Studies suggest that as many as 81% of women will be (or have been) sexually harassed at work (and up to 41% of men). And often, people of color and sexual or gender-minority individuals face increased instances of workplace sexual harassment. What is common to all, however, is that sexual harassment in the workplace can be stigmatizing, humiliating, and deeply traumatizing.

One of the challenges in combatting sexual harassment at work in Maryland is that very few victims come forward. A 2016 report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that three out of four individuals who experienced sexual harassment at work never even talked to a supervisor, manager, or union representative about the harassing conduct. At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we understand our clients' fears of isolation, inaction, or social and professional retaliation for complaining of sexual harassment (even after the #MeToo movement rocked the status quo in 2017). But it is also our experience that workplace sexual harassment is rarely an isolated incident—and standing up against one instance of sexual harassment can help countless other victims, and prevent it from happening to others.

If you're facing workplace sexual harassment in Maryland, contact us today for a confidential consultation with a Maryland sexual harassment lawyer.

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Justice for sexual harassment in the workplace starts today with a confidential lawyer consultation.

Federal Sexual Harassment laws

 

The primary federal law prohibiting sexual harassment at work is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

 

Other federal laws are sometimes implicated, such as the the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), which prohibits sexual harassment in some situations where members of the military are involved, but most federal workplace sexual harassment claims are brought under Title VII.

Title VII makes it unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person's sex. Harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

note on Title VII's workplace sexual harassment definition

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person's sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Under Title VII (and Maryland's sexual harassment laws), the victim and the sexual harasser can be of any sex or gender, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex or gender.

note on Title VII's workplace sexual harassment definition

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits so called "same sex" harassment, where the victim and harasser are the same sex or gender.

One of the most common questions we get at the Employment Law Center of Maryland is when teasing, offhand comments/jokes, or relatively isolated incidents of inappropriate sexual behavior constitute illegal workplace sexual harassment. While Title VII doesn't prohibit simple teasing or offhand comments, these actions can become sexual harassment when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment action (such as being fired, demoted, or not promoted).

note on Title VII's workplace sexual harassment types of hostile work environment or quid pro quo sexual harassment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) doesn't prohibit simple teasing or joking of a sexual nature—but this can constitute workplace sexual harassment when:

  1. it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment; or,

  2. when it results in an adverse employment action (such as being fired, demoted, or not promoted).

Under Title VII, a harasser doesn't necessary need to be a supervisor or co-worker; a harasser can also be a client, customer, or other non-employee.

note on Title VII's workplace sexual harassment individuals who can commit sexual harassment at work

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the harasser can be a co-worker, supervisor, or a non-employee (e.g., a client, customer).

At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we file Title VII workplace sexual harassment cases in the federal U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Contact us today for a confidential consultation with a Maryland sexual harassment lawyer.

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Justice for sexual harassment in the workplace starts today with a confidential lawyer consultation.

Maryland Sexual Harassment laws

 

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal in Maryland under Md. Code, State Gov't § 20-606 (Title 20), which is very similar to Title VII in many respects.

Like Title VII, Maryland's Title 20 states that it is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person's sex. Harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

graphic note that Maryland's Title 20 prohibits many type of sexual harassment at work

Maryland's Title 20 makes prohibits workplace sexual harassment, which can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

graphic note that Title 20 makes it illegal to retaliat against someone for complaining about workplace sexual harassment

Maryland's Title 20 also makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against any employee for opposing (i.e., complaining of) sexual harassment of themselves or another employee.

Maryland's sexual harassment laws underwent major changes in 2019 as a result (at least in part) of the #MeToo movement. Effective October 1, 2019, Maryland employers are responsible for addressing sexual and other illegal forms of harassment in the workplace.

 

The 2019 law expands coverage for people complaining of illegal harassment in two important ways. First, independent contractors will now be afforded the law's protections. Under Title VII, employers with fewer than 15 employees have been exempt from employment discrimination laws in the state and federal systems (though some Maryland counties have lower thresholds). Second, employers with at least one employee are now subject to the law's reach.

 

Lastly, employees or independent contractors who complain of harassment have a longer time period to file a charge of discrimination (now two years instead of six months), and file suit (three years instead of two).

 

This new law applies only to charges of discrimination under state law (not Title VII).

graphic note that Maryland state sexual harassment at work laws apply to any sized employer

As of 2019, Maryland's state law prohibiting sexual harassment at work applies to employers of any size.

graphic note that Maryland's law against workplace sexual harassment applies to independent contractors

As of 2019, Maryland's state law prohibiting sexual harassment at work does apply to independent contractors.

graphic note that you have up to two years from the date of the sexual harassment to file an administrative complaint of workplace sexual harassment with the MCCC

As of 2019, Maryland's state law prohibiting sexual harassment at work have up to two years to file an administrative complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (as opposed to just six months).

At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we file workplace sexual harassment cases under Title 20 in Maryland's circuit courts. Contact us today for a confidential consultation with a Maryland sexual harassment lawyer.

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When you're ready to start fighting back against sexual harassment in the workplaceyou won't be fighting alone.

LOCAL Sexual Harassment Laws

 

At least five Maryland counties have their own laws prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace.

map of Maryland counties where sexual harassment at work is prohibited by employment laws

The following Maryland county codes prohibit sex or gender discrimination (and by extension, sexual harassment) in the workplace, and allow for discrimination lawsuits to be filed charging violations of county fair-employment statutes or codes:

  • Baltimore County. The Baltimore County Code prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace by employers of any size.

  • Frederick County. The Frederick County Code prohibits sexual harassment  in the workplace by employers with at least 15 employees.

  • Howard County. The Howard County Code prohibits sexual harassment  in the workplace by employers with at least 5 employees.

note that several Maryland counties have laws prohibiting sex or gender discrimination in the workplace

Some Maryland counties (e.g., Montgomery County) prohibit workplace sexual harassment by employers of any size—unlike federal or state law.

At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we consider federal, state, and county laws in assessing every workplace sexual harassment case. If you need a Maryland sexual harassment lawyer, contact us for a confidential lawyer consultation.

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A personalized, winning strategy for your workplace sexual harassment case is just a click away.

Suing for Sexual Harassment

Whether you're suing for sexual harassment under federal or state laws, the procedure is largely the same (though some important deadlines differ). First, you'll need to file a complaint of discrimination with either the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR).

If you're filing with the the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you'll need to file your complaint of workplace sexual harassment within 300 days of the discriminatory act (e.g., your termination, date of an incident of discrimination). If you're filing with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR), you'll need to file your complaint of sexual harassment within two years (as of 2019) of the discriminatory act.

graphic note that EEOC complaints for workplace sexual harassmet must be filed within 300 days

Complaints of workplace sexual harassment must be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days.

graphic note that sexual harassment claims with the MCCR must be filed within two years

Complaints of sexual harassment at work must be filed with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR) within two years.

After you file your complaint of sexual harassment, the agency will assign your complaint to an investigator and start an investigation. Depending on the facts of your case, the agency may attempt conciliation, or offer mediation to you and your employer, to see if the complaint can be resolved without formal legal action.

In particularly egregious sexual harassment cases, the agency may prosecute the employer before an administrative, state, or federal court. This is very rare, and unfortunately, the limited funding these agencies receive means that, for most victims of sexual harassment, the agency will not be able to or willing to prosecute their case. This is why having a skilled Maryland sexual harassment lawyer is critical—as they can pursue your case before any of these courts.

Once the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concludes its investigation into your complaint, it will issue you a "notice of right to sue," which terminates its investigation and gives you just 90 days to file a sexual harassment lawsuit in state or federal court.

graphic note that you have 90 days to file a sexual harassment lawsuit after recieving your notice of right to sue from the EEOC

Once you receive a "notice of right to sue" letter from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you must file a lawsuit in state or federal court within 90 days.

This procedure is slightly different with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR). Under Md. Code, State Gov't § 20-606 (Title 20), you must filed your lawsuit in state court within three years of filing your sexual harassment complaint with the MCCR.

graphic note that you have three years to file a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit in Maryland

You must file your sexual harassment lawsuit in state or federal court within three years of filing a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR).

If you're facing sexual harassment in the workplace, you should contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible. A skilled Maryland sexual harassment lawyer can help you file the necessary administrative and court complaints, as well as keep track of the relevant deadlines.

Paper Abstract

Justice for workplace sexual harassment starts today with a  confidential lawyer consultation.

Paper Abstract

When you're ready to start fighting back against workplace sexual harassmentyou won't be fighting alone.

Blog Posts

For more on workplace sexual harassment in Maryland, check out our team's most recent blog post on this topic:

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A personalized, winning strategy for your workplace sexual harassment case is just a click away.

Helpful Links

For additional resources on sexual harassment in the Maryland workplace, check out the following helpful links:

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Justice for workplace sexual harassment starts today with a confidential lawyer consultation.