Labor & Employment
Winter 2017

Maryland Law Updates

“Equal Pay for Equal Work” Maryland Labor and Employment § 3-301

Effective October 1, 2016, this law prohibits employers from “providing less favorable employment opportunities” based on sex or gender identity. Examples of “less favorable employment opportunities” include anything from assigning an employee to a less favorable career track or position, failing to provide information about promotions, or limiting or depriving an employee of opportunities that would otherwise be available to the employee but which are not offered because of sex or gender identity.

Employers are prohibited from paying one wage to an employee of one sex or gender identity at a rate less than the rate paid to another employee of a different sex or gender identity so long as both employees work in the same establishment and perform work of comparable character or work in the same operation, business, or of the same type.

To adjust for any unlawful wage disparity, employers are not permitted to reduce any employee’s wages. If an adjustment is necessary for compliance, the employer may only increase an employee’s wages. Of course, the law does permit wage variances in certain scenarios: a seniority system, a merit increase system, jobs requiring different skills or regular performance of different duties or services, work performed on different dates and/or times, a system measuring performance based on quality/quantity/production, and education, training, or experience.

In addition, House Bill 1004 established an Equal Pay Commission on June 1, 2016. The Commission will be responsible for collecting and reviewing data from employers for wage disparities considering factors such as race, sex, or gender identity. The Commission will also be responsible for recommending practices for equal pay for equal work and assisting in enforcement.

Montgomery County Sick Leave Paid Law

Effective October 1, 2016, employees working in Montgomery County are entitled to paid sick leave which will accrue at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours that employee works within the County. Those working for businesses with five or more employees are entitled to a maximum of 56 hours of earned paid sick leave annually. Those working for businesses with less than five employees are entitled to a maximum of 32 hours of earned paid sick leave annually and 24 hours of unpaid sick leave. An employee may ‘carry over’ up to 56 hours. Only employees working more than eight hours each week are covered by the legislation.

Many businesses, including some of the largest employers in Montgomery County, will be unaffected by this law as they already offer their employees at least 56 hours of paid sick leave annually. Paid sick leave does not mean the employee has to be sick, other reasons include caring for a family member or child care when schools and daycare facilities are closed. Montgomery County employers must determine how many hours of sick leave they are granting their employees to ensure compliance with the new local law.

National Guard Employment Rights Maryland Public Safety § 13-307

Effective October 1, 2016, members of the National Guard whose employment rights have been violated may bring a civil suit for economic damages. A court may order such damages upon a finding that the employment and/or reemployment rights were violated. This state law is in addition to the rights already granted to members of the National Guard under federal law.