Maryland’s new law designed to prevent employers from asking employees to waive their future right to report sexual harassment is set to go into effect on October 1.
Under the law, “Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018” (HB 1596), Maryland employers with 50 or more employees will be prohibited from taking adverse action against employees because they fail or refuse to enter into agreements that contain a waiver of sexual harassment claims, including provisions requiring them to resolve future sexual harassment and retaliation claims through arbitration.
In addition, the law requires that on or before July 1, 2020, and on or before July 1, 2022, covered employers must complete a survey for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR) that discloses the following information:
- Number of settlements entered into by or on behalf of the employer after an employee made a sexual harassment allegation;
- Number of times the employer paid a settlement to resolve a sexual harassment allegation against the same employee over the past 10 years; and
- Number of settlements after a sexual harassment allegation that included a provision requiring both parties to keep the settlement terms confidential.
When an employer submits the survey to the MCCR, there will be space for it to report whether it took employment action against the employee who was the subject of the settlement disclosed in the survey.
The MCCR will publish on its website the aggregate number of responses from employers for each of the three categories. Upon request, the commission may disclose a specific employer’s response about the number of times it has paid a settlement to resolve sexual harassment allegations against the same employee over the past 10 years.
The law also requires the MCCR to review a random selection of surveys on or before December 15, 2020, and again on December 15, 2022, to create an executive summary, redacting any identifying information for specific employers.
For more information on Maryland’s new law on reporting sexual harassment, see the July issue of Maryland Employment Law Letter.