Most workers have heard of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC. Far fewer are aware of the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, or MCCR. But if you're a Maryland worker facing discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, you need to know how the MCCR can help you.
While the EEOC enforces federal employment laws, the MCCR enforces Maryland's state employment laws.
The MCCR enforces Maryland's human rights statute, Md. Code, State Gov't § 20 (known as "Title 20"), and investigates complaints of discrimination in employment. Maryland's Title 20 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of:
ancestry or national origin
If you've been a victim of employment discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in Maryland, you may need to file a complaint with the MCCR. Here at the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we frequently assist clients with drafting and filing their MCCR complaints. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation with a Maryland employment lawyer.
Filing a Complaint
Importantly, complaints of employment discrimination under Maryland's Title 20 must be filed with the MCCR within 300 days of the discrimination. Md. Code, State Gov't § 20-1004(c)(2)(i). This does not apply to harassment cases; in harassment cases, you have up to 2 years to file a complaint. Md. Code, State Gov't § 20-1004(c)(2)(ii).
Generally, MCCR complaints must be filed within 300 days. Don't miss this deadline.
To file a complaint, you can either:
Go to the MCCR's website, and select "Initiate an Inquiry", then attend an interview with an intake staffer; or,
Have a Maryland employment lawyer file a complaint on your behalf.
Keep in mind that filing an "inquiry" on the MCCR's website is not considered a formal complaint; you'll need to meet with an investigator before your complaint is considered formally filed.
Pursuant to Md. Code, State Gov't § 20-1004(b), an MCCR complaint has to:
Be in writing;
State the name and address of the person or entity alleged to have committed the discriminatory act;
Describe "the particulars" or details of the discrimination; and,
Be signed by you, under oath.
After the Complaint
Once you (or your Maryland employment lawyer) have submitted the MCCR's inquiry form, you'll be contacted by the MCCR's Intake Unit. The Intake Unit will set up a phone call, during which you'll describe what happened to the intake staffer, and confirm some important details (e.g., your legal name, date of birth, phone number). Generally, the Intake Unit will schedule this phone call for well ahead of the 300-day deadline, but don't rely on their calculations, and if it's going to be close, contact an employment lawyer to speed up the process.
Following your interview, the Intake Unit staffer will send you a "Form 5," which you'll need to sign under oath. Until you've signed the Form 5, you haven't formally filed your complaint.
Once you've signed the EEOC/MCCR Form 5, you've formally filed your complaint.
Conveniently, your MCCR complaint will be "cross-filed" with the EEOC, so you'll only need to submit one complaint to be on file under both Maryland and federal law.
After this, your case will be assigned to an investigator, who will walk you through the next steps, and take any documents or evidence you may have relating to your case. Investigators are impartial—they aren't on either you or your employer's side. They will conduct an investigation to determine the facts through interviewing witnesses, gathering and analyzing documents, conducting on-site visits and conducting fact finding conferences with you and/or your employer.
MCCR investigators are impartial—they're not on you or your employer's side.
Following their investigation, the investigator will issue a "written finding," which will lay out the results of the investigation.
If the investigators determines that there was discrimination, they'll attempt to mediate the case, and, in some circumstances, refer the case to the Commission’s Office of the General Counsel for prosecution (but this is rare). Md. Code Regs. 14.03.01.09.
If the investigator determines that there was not discrimination, they'll issue you a finding of "No Probable Cause," and offer you the opportunity to either file a Request for Consideration to the Commissions' Deputy Director, or hire a Maryland employment lawyer to take the case to court.
The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, or MCCR, is the Maryland stage agency that enforces Maryland's employment discrimination laws. Filing a complaint with the MCCR is an important pre-requisite to pursuing your employment discrimination case before Maryland's state courts.
If you're not sure whether you should file a complaint with the MCCR, contact the Employment Law Center of Maryland for a free, confidential consultation with a Maryland employment lawyer, or give us a call at (240) 384-5705. We're here to help.