Since October 1, 2018, the “Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018” has been enforceable law in Maryland.
This legislation, designed to strengthen the prohibition on sexual harassment found in Md. Code, State Gov't § 20-606 (Title 20), made waves in employment law circles due to its enhanced reporting requirements—compelling Maryland employers with at least 50 employees to disclose past sexual harassment settlements to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR).
But the law made other substantive changes to Title 20 that have garnered less attention. At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we think the following three changes have had far more impact over the past two years than the more widely-covered reporting requirements:
First, the definition of “employee” now includes employees and independent contractors. This change significantly expanded the pool of people who could file workplace harassment claims against a Maryland employer.
Second, the definition of “employer” now includes (for harassment claims only) employers of any size. Historically, Title 20's prohibitions on workplace sexual harassment only applied to employers with at least fifteen employees (leaving harassment victims with only wrongful termination claims).
Third, the law extended the period for filing a complaint of harassment with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights to two years from the date of the sexual harassment (increased from six months), and also extended the period for filing a lawsuit in circuit court to three years from the date of the sexual harassment (this is increased from two years).
So sure, reports to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR) are helpful and will hopefully spur more helpful legislation. But over the past two years, these three changes have allowed more victims of workplace sexual harassment to file cases and stand up for their rights, and that's progress worth celebrating.
"over the past two years, these three changes have allowed more victims of workplace sexual harassment to stand up for their rights"
There's more work to be done, but after two years of the “Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018, we can see tangible impacts. If you're a victim of workplace sexual harassment, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation with a Maryland sexual harassment lawyer.