When you speak up about something your employer is doing that you believe is wrong, and you then suffer retaliation, or are fired, because of your disclosure, there are several state laws that may provide you protection. In addition, if you are thinking of speaking up about wrongdoing at work, you will want to understand what, if any, protections are available.

These protections are only for people in certain jobs, for people working for specific employers, or for people reporting certain kinds of violations or wrongdoing.

As you begin to decide your options, 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 fit into narrow categories of protection:
    • The categories are typically based on who your employer is.
    • One of the laws only applies if you are a licensed or board-certified health care worker.
    • The protections often depend on the kind of wrongdoing that you disclosed, or who you made your disclosure to.
  • There are different time limits for when you must file a complaint.
  • Most of the Maryland laws require you to file a complaint with a government agency before you can go to court.

Several Maryland laws prohibit retaliation against an employee who has disclosed wrongdoing by an employer.  For more details, click one of the laws.

Notes:

  • These protections are not strictly limited to disclosing wrongdoing. For example, there is a law that provides protection if you suffer retaliation for reporting a workplace injury or hazard.
  • You may also have additional protection from county and municipal codes.
  • Federal whistleblower protections cover more employees and more kinds of disclosures than the Maryland laws. See https://www.whistleblowers.gov.

Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA)

Who is protected by this law?

What kind of whistleblowing is covered?

  • All employees of an employer who has 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.
  • All public sector employees.

Note: If your employer has less than 15 employees, there may still be a common law remedy for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy.  Talk to a lawyer.

Read the Law: MD Code, State Gov’t §20-601

You made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing related to prohibited discrimination by your employer, or opposed any prohibited discrimination by your employer, and then you suffered discrimination or retaliation from your employer.

Read the Law: MD Code, State Gov’t § 20–606

Note:  Prohibited discrimination includes an employer failing or refusing to hire, discharging, or otherwise discriminating against any individual with respect to the individual's compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of the individual's race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, or disability.

How do I start a claim?

You have six months from the date that the discriminatory act occurred, to file a written, and signed, complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. 

Read the Law: MD Code, State Gov’t §20-1004

 

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Act (MOSH)

Who is protected by this law?

What kind of whistleblowing is covered?

Almost every employee is protected.

Exceptions (people not protected):

1)     Federal employees.

2)     Employees who are covered by:

a.     The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977,

b.     The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, or

c.      The Atomic Energy Act of 1954.

Read the Law: MD Code, Labor & Employ. §5-103

You filed a complaint, or you brought an action or proceeding, or you caused an action or proceeding to be brought, or you testified or were to testify in an action or proceeding related to the occupational safety and health of your workplace, and you were then fired or otherwise discriminated against.

 

Alternatively, you exercised, for yourself or another, a right provided by the MOSH Act, and you were then fired or otherwise discriminated against.

Read the Law: MD Code, Labor & Employ. § 5-604

How do I start a claim?

You have 30 days after the discrimination occurred, to make a written, and signed, complaint to the Maryland Commissioner of Labor and Industry.

Read the Law: MD Code, Labor & Employ. §5-604

 

State Contractor Employees’ Whistleblower Protection

Who is protected by this law?

What kind of whistleblowing is covered?

Your employer must have a contract, or subcontract, to provide supplies or services to a state of Maryland executive branch entity.

Read the Law: MD Code, St. Fin. & Proc. §11-301

Note:

1)     “Services” does not include:

a.     construction related services;

b.     architectural services;

c.      engineering services; or

d.     energy performance contract services.

2)     Licensed or board-certified health care workers are not covered, but see the Health Care Workers Whistleblowers Protection Act below.

Read the Law: MD Code, St. Fin. & Proc., §11-101

You reported what you reasonably believed to be evidence of an abuse of authority, gross mismanagement, gross waste of money, a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or a violation of law, and then you were subject to an adverse personnel action, or reprisal, by your employer because of that disclosure.

Or, you objected to, or refused to participate in any activity, policy, or practice in violation of law, and then you were subject to an adverse personnel action or reprisal by your employer because of that objection or refusal.

Read the Law: MD Code, St. Fin. & Proc. § 11-303

How do I start a claim?

You have one year from the date of the alleged violation or when you first became aware of the alleged violation to make a claim in the appropriate court (District or Circuit Court).

Read the Law: MD. Code, St. Fin. & Proc. §11-304

 

Executive Employees Whistleblower Protection Act

Who is protected by this law?

What kind of whistleblowing is covered?

You must be a State employee of the Executive Branch or a State employee who has applied for a position within the Executive Branch.

Read the Law: MD Code, St.Pers.Pen. §5-301

You reported what you reasonably believed to be evidence of an abuse of authority, gross waste of money, or a specific, substantial danger to public health or safety, or a violation of law, and then you were subject to an adverse personnel action by your agency because of that disclosure. 

Read the Law: MD Code, St.Pers.Pen. § 5–305

Note:

1)     You must have made the disclosure to a person of higher authority, who could correct the alleged wrongdoing.  Lawson v. Bowie State Univ., 421 Md. 245 (2011).

2)     You must show that your disclosure was, at minimum, a contributing factor of the subsequent, adverse personnel action.  Dep't of Nat. Res. v. Heller, 391 Md. 148 (2006).

3)     You will have no protection if your agency can show that the adverse personnel action would have been taken regardless of the disclosure.

Read the Law: MD Code, St.Pers.Pen. §5-302

4)     If the disclosure is specifically prohibited by law, you must have made the disclosure to the Maryland Attorney General.

Read the Law: MD Code, St.Pers.Pen. §5-306

How do I start a claim?

You have six months from when you knew, or reasonably should have known, of the violation, to make a complaint to the Maryland Secretary of Budget and Management.

Read the Law: MD Code, St.Pers.Pen. § 5–309

 

Health Care Workers Whistleblowers Protection Act

Who is protected by this law?

What kind of whistleblowing is covered?

You must be a licensed or board-certified health care worker, and you cannot be a state employee.

Read the Law: MD Code, Health Occupations §1-501

You reported, in writing, to a supervisor or administrator of your employer, what you reasonably and in good faith believed to be a violation of law, rule or regulation that posed a specific and substantial danger to public health or safety. Alternatively, you followed your employer’s corporate compliance plan specifying who to notify of a violation of law, rule, or regulation (that posed a specific and substantial danger to public health or safety).

You then gave your employer a reasonable amount of time to correct the dangerous activity, and you suffered an adverse personnel action, or reprisal, because:

1)     You disclosed or threatened to disclose to a supervisor, or to a state health or licensing board, an activity, policy, or practice of your employer that was in violation of a law, rule, or regulation, or

2)     You provided information or testified before a public body investigating any violation of law, rule, or regulation by your employer, or

3)     You refused to participate in the violation of a law, rule, or regulation.

Read the Law: MD Code, Health Occupations §§ 1-502, 1-503

 

How do I start a claim?

You have one year from the date of the reprisal to make a claim in the appropriate court (District or Circuit Court).

Read the Law: MD Code, Health Occupations §1-504

 

Source: 

John Whitty, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law and the Government Accountability Project

Escape Now Button: 

No
Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2017.”

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view, download Adobe Acrobat Reader.