Maryland law creates two new obligations for employers
Maryland is the next state to jump on the bandwagon with a new law addressing sexual harassment. On May 15, 2018, Governor Hogan signed the “Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018” On October 1, 2018 the law goes into effect requiring Maryland employers, regardless of size, to comply with the following prohibitions and reporting requirements.
• Prohibiting from including in an employment agreement, contract, or policy, any provision that waives any substantive or procedural right or remedy to a future claim of sexual harassment or retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. Inclusion of such language will render the document null and void.
• Prohibits employers from taking adverse action against an employee because the employee refuses to enter into an agreement containing such a waiver.
• Employers with 50 or more employees working in or outside of Maryland will be required to submit to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR) responses to surveys requiring the following information on or before July 1, 2020 and on or before July 1, 2022:
The number of monetary settlements made by or on behalf of the employers after an allegation of sexual harassment is made,
The number of times the employers has paid a settlement to resolve a sexual harassment allegation against the same employee over the past 10 years of employment, and
- Settlements entered into after allegations of sexual harassment are made that include a provision requiring both parties to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.
The Act does not identify time limitations regarding the reporting requirements so it is unclear, at this point, whether the survey covers both current and former employees. To prepare for survey submissions, employers with 50 or more employees should begin gathering this information on past settlements and set up a system for capturing future settlement information.
In addition, MCCR will post on its website the aggregate number of responses from employers; however, the Act does not clarify whether or not the alleged harasser’s identify will be disclosed. MCCR will also retain, for public inspection on request, the responses from specific employers regarding the number of settlements identified in #2 above. Needless to say, this information may be used to support legal actions based on sexual harassment.