Employment Discrimination

Overview of the Federal and Maryland Employment Anti-Discrimination Laws

There are a number of federal laws that prohibit discrimination because of age, race, color, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, religion and pregnancy. As you begin to decide if you have been subjected to the type of discrimination covered by law, there are a few key concepts that will help you.

  • Not everyone is covered. To be able to take legal action under these laws, you must fall into certain categories. (These categories are called “protected classes”.)
  • Not every law covers every situation. The person or group you believe has discriminated against you must also fit into certain categories. For example, employers with fewer than 20 employees are not covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
  • There are different time limits for when you can file complaints under federal and state laws.
  • Where to start. Some discrimination laws require you to file a complaint with an agency before you can go to court. Others, such as the Equal Pay Act, allow you to take a claim of discrimination directly to court.

A few counties and Baltimore City have passed local laws making certain kinds of employment discrimination illegal. Counties that have adopted local laws include Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

Anti-Discrimination Laws What the Law Says Who is Covered by the Law
Federal Laws
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Law: 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e

Enforcement: For more information about filing a complaint- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Can file by mail, in person or over the phone.

Employers may not harass or discriminate against applicants or employees on the basis of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and national origin.
Employers covered by the law cannot:

refuse to hire,
fire, or
limit opportunities such as promotions or higher pay because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. (42 U.S.C. §2000e-2(a)(1-2)).

Employers with 15 or more employees
State governments
Federal government
Employment agencies
Labor organizations
Joint management-labor committees
Note: Some employers are exempt. For example, religious organizations may  require employees to be of a certain faith. (42 USC § 2000e-1(a))

Note: All employers (regardless of their number of employees) are covered by the 1991 Civil Rights Act. (42 USC § 1981)

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
Law: 29 U.S.C §§ 621-634

Enforcement: For more information about filing a complaint- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Employers may not discriminate against employees who are age 40 or older.
Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against you if you make a complaint using this law.

The federal government and its agencies.
Private employers with 20 or more employees.
Interstate agencies.
Employment agencies.
Labor unions.

Note: This law does not apply to state government

The Equal Pay Act
Law: 29 U.S.C. § 206d

Enforcement: For more information about filing a complaint- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Employers must give men and women equal pay for equal work, even if the job titles are different. Equal work means that both men and women perform jobs that require the same skill, effort, responsibility and, under similar conditions.

Note: A man and woman can be paid different salaries for equal work if the difference is based on a seniority, merit or incentive system.

With very few exceptions, almost every employer must follow this law - private employers as well as federal and state governments.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
Law: 42 USC § 12101 et seq.

Enforcement: For more information about filing a complaint- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

ADA: For help on accommodations for a specific person with a disability, contact the Job Accommodation Network at 800-526-7234.

Employers cannot discriminate against a person with a disability in any aspect of employment. This includes interviews, testing, hiring, job assignment, evaluations, discipline, training, promotions, layoffs, compensation, leave and benefits.

Note: An employer must make “reasonable accommodation” to allow a qualified disabled person to do the job. 42 USC 126 §12112(b)(5)(A).

Exception: If the accommodation needed would impose “an undue hardship” on the employer, the change may not be required. 29 CFR § 1639.9

Employers with 15 or more employees for at least 20 weeks a year.
State and local government and their agencies.
Employment agencies.
Labor unions.
Religious organizations with 15 or more employees.
 
Note: The ADA covers other areas such as housing, public accommodations, education, transportation, communication, recreation, institutionalization, health services, voting, and access to public services. 42 USC 126 § 12101.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Enforcement: For more information about filing a complaint- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

An employer must not refuse to hire or discriminate against a woman who is pregnant. A pregnant woman must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations.

Note: Any health insurance provided by the employer must cover all pregnancy expenses on the same basis as costs for other medical conditions. Health insurance expenses arising from an abortion are not required to be covered, unless the life of the mother is endangered.

Employers with 15 or more employees
State governments
Federal government· Employment agencies
Labor organizations
Joint management-labor committees

Note: Some employers are exempt. For example, religious organizations may require employees to be of a certain faith. (42 U.S.C. §2000e-1(a))

 

The Immigration Reform and Control Act ( IRCA ) of 1986
Law: 8 USC § 1324b

Enforcement: To file a complaint, contact the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices  800-237-2515 or e-mail osccrt@usdoj.gov

Employers are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of their citizenship or national origin. Employers with 4 or more employees.
For an information short fact sheet, check the U. S. Department of Agriculture website.

For a list of detailed questions and answers check the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices

Maryland Laws
Law: Md Code. State Goverment § 20-601  

Enforcement: The Maryland Commission on Human Relations accepts complaints.  All complaints are investigated.

You must file a complaint within 6 months of:

Date of discrimination ( 1 year for housing) or
Date when you learned of the discriminatory action.

Maryland makes it unlawful to refuse to hire or discharge someone due to:
  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Marital status
  • Genetic information, or refusal to submit to a genetic test
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Disability unrelated in nature and extent to the performance of the employment

 
 
 

Employers in industry or business who have 15 or more employees, including the State.

Read the Law: MD Code Ann. State Gov't 20-601.

 

 

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