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Maryland’s #MeToo Bill – New Reporting Requirements

In the wake of the nation’s #MeToo movement, Maryland now joins the ranks of other states, such as Illinois and New York, that have adopted stricter sexual harassment policies.  Maryland’s law is officially titled, “Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018” and is set to take effect on October 1, 2018.

The Act first declares void against State public policy any provision in an employment contract or policy that requires an employee to waive any right or remedy for any future claim of (1) sexual harassment, or (2) retaliation for reporting or asserting a right or remedy based on sexual harassment.  Any employer that enforces or attempts to enforce such a provision against an employee may be liable for the employee’s reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. This Act applies to all employment contracts and policies that are executed, extended or renewed on or after October 1, 2018.

Second, the Act places certain reporting requirements on employers with 50 or more employees.  On or before July 1, 2020, and again on July 1, 2022, employers will be required to submit a survey to the Maryland Commission of Civil Rights that details the following information:

  1. the number of settlements made by or on behalf of the employer after an allegation of sexual harassment by an employee;

  2. the number of times the employer has paid a settlement to resolve a sexual harassment allegation against the same employee over the past 10 years of employment; and

  3. the number of settlements made after an allegation of sexual harassment that included a provision requiring both parties to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.

The Maryland Commission of Civil Rights is responsible for collecting this information and will then provide public access to it by posting the aggregate number of responses from each employer on the Commission’s website.  While the employer names will be accessible, the names of any alleged harassers and victims will not be posted. In addition to making the survey information public, the Commission will also review a random selection of surveys submitted for the purpose of creating an executive summary for submission to the Governor, the Senate Finance Committee and House Economic Matters Committee.

Prior to October 1, 2018, all employers should consider reviewing their current sexual harassment policies and procedures, specifically revising employment contracts and policies if necessary to ensure compliance with this Act. In addition, for those subject to the reporting requirements, those employers should ensure they have a system in place to track and compile the information required for submission to the Maryland Commission of Civil Rights, noting that the survey will require data from 2010 going forward up through 7/1/2022.

 

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