Everyone deserves to work in a safe, equitable, and productive space. Employees in the Baltimore area are guaranteed certain rights in the workplace that prevent employers from taking action against them due to a protected trait. Discrimination is still a prevalent issue in today’s workplace, but employees subjected to discriminatory behavior have legal options that an experienced employment law attorney can help them enforce. At HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP our team of dedicated legal professionals is prepared to protect you against employment discrimination in Baltimore. To learn more, call or contact our office today.
What is Employment Discrimination?
Discrimination occurs when one person takes an adverse action against another because of their actual or perceived belonging to a protected class, and it is considered employment discrimination when these adverse actions occur within the workplace. There are many characteristics that are protected against discrimination, including a person’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, pregnancy status, and other identifiers.
Employment discrimination occurs when an employer takes an adverse employment action against an applicant or employee because of a protected characteristic. Adverse employment actions include refusing to hire, firing, demoting, suspending, reducing pay, transferring to a less desirable location, disciplining, giving poor performance reviews, reducing work hours, and more. Employers are also not allowed to engage in adverse employment actions against an employee who reports discrimination in the workplace, regardless of whether it is happening to them or someone else. Federal and state laws protect workers against discrimination, and an employment law attorney can help enforce those rights if they are violated.
Federal Discrimination Protection
There are multiple laws at the federal level that prevent employers from discriminating against their employees or applicants based on a protected class. Federal discrimination laws generally apply to employers who have 15 or more employees, but others have a requirement or 20 or more employees in order to be applicable. Given the varying requirements and complexities of federal discrimination law, it is important that you speak with an experienced employment lawyer if you believe that your rights have been violated in the workplace. Some of these federal protections include:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Under this law, employers cannot harass or discriminate against an employee or applicant based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, which includes refusing to hire, firing, or discriminate in their employment terms. This law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. An employer is also not allowed under this law to retaliate against an employee for reporting violations under the law.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees who are 40 years old and older based on their age. They are also not allowed to retaliate against employees who report violations of the age discrimination law. Unlike other federal laws preventing discrimination, this law applies only to employers with 20 or more employees.
Equal Pay Act of 1963
This law prevents employers from discriminating based on gender and requires employers to give men and women equal pay for equal work, even if job titles are different. Equal work means that the same level of skill, effort, and responsibility is required, regardless of the gender of the employee performing the work. Exceptions are allowed if pay is different based on a seniority, merit, or incentive system.
Americans With Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents employers from discriminating against employees or applicants based on their disability status. This includes in the interview process, testing, hiring, work assignments, evaluations, discipline, training, promotions, layoffs, compensation, or other employee benefits. This law requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities so long as it does not create an undue hardship on the employer. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an employee reporting violations of this law.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
This law prevents workplace discrimination based on an employee’s pregnancy status. An employer is prohibited from refusing to hire or discriminating against a woman because she is pregnant. A pregnant woman must be treated the same as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations, and employers can also face liability if they retaliate against an employee for reporting violations of this federal law.
There are other federal laws that protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. To learn if they apply to your case, talk to one of our employment lawyers today.
State Discrimination Protection
Maryland also has its own state laws that protect employees against discrimination in the workplace. State laws are applicable when they go above and beyond the protections afforded by federal law. These laws in Maryland include the following:
Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act:
Under the state’s Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA), it is considered unlawful to refuse to hire, fire, or otherwise discriminate against an applicant or employee based on the following protected characteristics:
- National origin
- Marital status
- Gender Identity
- Genetic information, or refusal to submit to a genetic test
- Sexual orientation, or
- Disability unrelated in nature and extent to the performance of the employment
The FEPA also makes it illegal for any employer to retaliate against an employee for making a complaint about workplace discrimination under this law. The state law applies to all employers in Maryland who have fifteen or more employees for at least twenty weeks of the calendar year.
Maryland CROWN Act:
Maryland also added a CROWN Act to their employment discrimination laws that prevents an employer from discriminating against an employee or applicant based on traits associated with race, including hair texture, afro hairstyles, and protective hairstyles like dreadlocks, twists, and braids.
Call or Contact Our Office Now
Employers that discriminate against employees or applicants deserve to be held accountable for their actions. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against in the workplace in the Baltimore area, talk to the experienced employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP today. Call the office or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable employment attorneys now.