Employment Law Blog

Friday, August 18, 2017

Apprenticeship Council Certification Process Questioned

Q. Is the District of Columbia enforcing its own labor laws?

There is controversy surrounding the commercial and residential building boom in the DC area.  Employment law attorneys representing employers in the construction industry--who encourage companies to follow state and federal laws-- as well as their compliant clients and some local politicians, are up in arms about the controversial certification of an out-of-state contractor with an allegedly less-than-stellar reputation.

The contractor in question has contracts at “16 major building sites in D.
Read more . . .

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Maryland Electrical Workers’ Shocking Racial Discrimination Claim

Q: What constitutes racial discrimination in the workplace?

Despite Maryland laws, employment lawyers help employees take action regarding many different harassment- and discrimination-based workplace problems. They also help employers defend against meritless claims.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, and religion. Employees who possess these characteristics are considered members of a “protected class”.

Read more . . .

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Blowing the Whistle on Religious Discrimination

Q: Do I have to work on a religious holiday?

Employment lawyers know that despite state and federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, and religion, employees in these protected classes are still victims of discrimination. Sometimes employers don't discriminate overtly, but in other instances their actions may be harder to hide.

In addition, disparate impact discrimination --when an employer applies the same policy, rule or practice to every employee, but it has a disproportionately negative impact on employees who are members of a protected class-- can be hard to identify.
Read more . . .

Sunday, May 21, 2017

New Employee Sick and Safe Leave Law Seems Unstoppable

Q: How will the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act impact employees and employers if signed into law?

Score one for the employee.

In the contemporary workplace setting, the laws that govern the relationship between employer and employees are ever-changing. For that reason many smart businesses are often retain skilled employment lawyers to ensure they stay on top of the latest changes in workplace regulations and reduce lawsuits for inadvertent noncompliance.

The latest change in Maryland involves a mandatory sick and safe leave law called the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (the “Act”). When it becomes law, as it appears it will, the Act will join the Family Medical Leave Act as another weapon for workers battling Read more . . .

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Internal Judicial Discipline and the Lack of Transparency

Q: Should the remedial or disciplinary action imposed in sexual harassment claims against judges be confidential or public?

Sexual-harassment in the workplace, coming from your boss or another superior, is often difficult, frustrating, and frightening.

There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace: Quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment harassment.

In a nutshell, quid pro quo involves a superior demanding sexual favors of an employee as a condition of employment and benefits.
Read more . . .

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Reassignment is a Reasonable Disability Accommodation

If you have a disability and cannot perform your current job, but your employer has other open positions which you can perform, you may now have the right to a reassignment under Maryland law. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in a recent case that a reassignment is a reasonable accommodation, and an employer who refuses to consider a request for reassignment may be in violation of the state Fair Employment Practices Act. This is an important decision for disabled workers. No longer is it arguable under Maryland law that these employees have to show that they can be accommodated in the present jobs which they hold. It is now undoubtedly enough if they can show that their employers had other available positions which they could perform.

Read more . . .

Saturday, April 9, 2016

$12 Million Lyft Settlement Rejected by Court Because it "Shortchanged" Drivers

A federal judge in California denied preliminary approval to a $12 million class action settlement agreement that would have resolved Lyft drivers' claims of being misclassified by the ride-share company as independent contractors because the settlement was based on an "artificially low estimate" of damages; in particular the true maximum value of the drivers' mileage reimbursement claim appeared to be double the figure on which the settlement in this California Labor Code suit was based. Just over a year ago, the court ruled that whether Lyft drivers were employees or independent contractors was for a jury to decide. Both Uber and Lyft drivers have been fighting to be treated as employees rather than independent contractors because this would mean that they could be reimbursed for expenses, wage and hour laws would apply, benefits laws would apply, and the ride-share companies would have to pay the employer share of payroll taxes, such as social security taxes.

Read more . . .

Saturday, April 2, 2016

New York Creates Paid Family Leave

New York has now become just the fifth state - after California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington State - to mandate paid leave. The program will mandate up to 12 weeks of paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child and to care for an ill parent, child, spouse, domestic partner or other family member. While federal law, under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allows some employees 12 weeks of leave for similar events, that leave is unpaid leave. Unlike with federal law, New York's law will cover full and part-time employees and there will be no exemptions for small businesses. Moreover, whereas with federal FMLA you have to work for one year before you are eligible for leave, New York law only requires 6 months of employment.

Read more . . .

Friday, March 25, 2016

Transgender Discrimination is Sex Discrimination Under the Law: It Is Legally Actionable

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not explicitly protected against transgender discrimination. It does protect against sex discrimination. Therefore, transgender rights advocates have been arguing that transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination protected under Title VII. On March 21, 2016 a U.S. District Court in Connecticut agreed with this argument and ruled that a failure to hire due to transgender status was legally actionable as sex discrimination. The Supreme Court has never addressed this issue, and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has found that discrimination on the basis of transgender status is not legally actionable sex discrimination. Maryland is in the Fourth Circuit, which has not addressed the issue, nor has the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. Sooner or later, it is likely that this issue will find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But, for now, it is clear that the trend is towards the growth of legal protections for individuals with transgender status. Employers should take not of this and transgendered individuals should be aware of their growing rights. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

EEOC Breaks New Ground Suing for Sexual Orientation Discrimination Under Title VII for the First Time

On March 1st the EEOC announced the filing of its first two Title VII sex discrimination cases based on sexual orientation. One of the suits was filed locally in the District of Maryland. The EEOC has been working for several years to try to show that sexual orientation, which is not explicitly listed in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is a form of sex discrimination, which is covered under Title VII.

In many respects, the federal laws are playing catch-up to state and local laws which already protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in many jurisdictions, including Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Employers Must Engage in Dialogue Regarding Religious Accommodations

The National Federation of the Blind, based in Baltimore, agreed to pay $25,000 to an employee who alleged he was fired from his bookkeeping position because he refused to work on Saturdays. The employee was a practicing Hebrew Pentecostal, a Christian denomination, whose Sabbath is on Saturdays. The employee stated that he attempted to engage his employer in a dialogue. But, instead, he was terminated. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the Federation will conduct anti-discrimination training and post a notice informing employees that they are entitled to reasonable accommodations for their religious practices. 

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