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30 Sep

September 2020 Maryland HR Legal Updates

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Maryland Ban on Salary History Questions Upcoming

What happened?
As of October 1, 2020, employers will no longer be allowed to ask potential employees their salary history during the interviewing process under HB 123.   

What are the details?
In effort to combat historical wage discrimination against women, Maryland will be prohibiting employers from asking interviewees what their previous salary history was. Additionally, interviewees may ask employers to provide the salary range for the relevant position. Applicants may still voluntary provide this information if they wish. It will be considered unlawful to refuse to interview, hire, or employ an applicant because the applicant did not provide their wage history. Finally, the law will prohibit employers from retaliating against an application for employment because the applicant makes a complaint, brings an action against you, or testifies against you under the equal pay law. Conversely, employees may not make groundless or malicious complaints against employers or otherwise proceedings in bad faith. 

An article discussing HB 123 can be found here.

HB 123’s full text can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should begin updating their hiring policies in order to stay in compliance with HB 123. Managers and other employees with the ability to hire should be trained on the new restrictions in order to reduce possible liability.

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Maryland Upcoming “Mini”-WARN Act and CROWN Act

What happened?
On October 1, 2020, Maryland’s mini-WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act and Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act will become effective.

What are the details?
“Mini”-WARN Act

The Mini-WARN Act, SB 780, when compared to the federal WARN Act is more encompassing, requires notices be given to more people once triggered, and imposes much harsher penalties. Maryland’s WARN act will cover employers operating industrial, commercial, or business enterprises employing 50 or more employees for at least 12 months. Employees working 20 hours or less on average per week or have worked for the employer for less than six of the preceding 12 months are not included in the count for the purpose of determining an employer’s coverage under law. Under SB 780, employers must provide a 60 days’ notice of a reduction in operations, defined as:

  1. A relocation of a part of an employer’s operation from one workplace to another existing or proposed site; or
  2. The shutdown of either a workplace; or a portion of the operations of a workplace that reduces the number of employees by the greater of at least 25%, or at least 15 employees, over any three-month period.

Under the law, covered employers must provide 60 days’ notice to:

  • All employees at the workplace subject to reduction;
  • Any union or bargaining agency of the affected employees;
  • The Maryland Workforce Development’s Dislocated Worker Unit; and
  • All elected local officials in the area of the affected workplace.

This law will not be enforced by the Maryland DOL until they have posted their requirements, expected around April 2021. They will likely be posting the regulations for public comment in November 2020.  Upon enforcement, employers who violate the law could face a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day for failure to provide notice to all required parties.

Finally, the law does not apply to reductions in operation that are the result of:

  • labor disputes;
  • that occur in state or politically run commercial, industrial, or agricultural businesses;
  • occur at construction sites or other temporary workplaces;
  • that are the result of seasonal factors, as determined by the Department of Labor; or
  • occur when an employer files for bankruptcy.

SB 780 can be read here.

CROWN Act

Like many other states now, Maryland has implemented a CROWN Act into its law. The CROWN Act expands the definition of race to include “certain traits associated with race, including hair texture and certain hairstyles.” “Braids, twists, and locks” along with “hair texture, afro hairstyles, and protective hairstyles” are specifically named and included in this protection.

The CROWN Act can be read fully here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should update their standards of procedure when reducing their workforce, should it trigger Maryland’s WARN Act. Employers should also look at their hiring procedures and may need to provide training to hiring personnel regarding the CROWN Act’s new additions to the definition of race.

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