Maryland Sexual Harassment Law
Sexual harassment is not an uncommon thing at work. But many victims choose to “shrug it off” or turn the other cheek, fearful that if they make a claim or tell someone, they might be faced with retaliation that can be worse than the harassment itself. In the state of Maryland, it is illegal for a company or employer to retaliate against anyone who files a claim for sexual harassment. However, that doesn’t always mean that retaliation can’t come in different forms. The only way to ensure that you can voice your opinion and still be safe from negative consequences is to hire a Maryland sexual harassment lawyer to protect your interests.
According to the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act, discrimination that is based on gender characteristics, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status are all prohibited. Discrimination and sexual harassment are illegal per state law, and at the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stipulates that no one shall discriminate against another individual at work due to gender or sexual harassment.
For Maryland sexual harassment law, gender identity is a specifically outlined protection that prohibits someone from being harassed or discriminated against due to appearance, identity behavior, or expression of gender at birth.
What kinds of behaviors are encompassed under “sexual harassment”?
There are many different behaviors that are encompassed under sexual harassment: sexual innuendos, non consensual touching, derogatory comments or remarks, unwelcome sexual advances, offensive sexually explicit material or even offensive jokes. To establish a claim of sexual harassment, you must be able to prove that an individual engaged in systematic and pervasive behaviors that created an intimidating and threatening workplace environment. If the misconduct is repetitious enough to interfere with your work performance, then someone is creating a hostile work atmosphere, which is illegal both at the state and federal levels.
The other type of sexual harassment, which does not have to be repetitious or pervasive, is if someone in authority or someone who holds power over your work position propositions you for a sexual act or favor and either implicitly or explicitly makes you feel that your job security is dependent on your acquiescing. In the same manner, if someone offers you a promotion or a perk for a sexual favor, that can also be considered sexual harassment under Maryland sexual harassment law.
What resources do you have if you are the victim of sexual harassment?
If you have suffered from sexual harassment, then you do have resources to make it stop. The Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act applies to any public and private employer with 15 or more workers. If you are in a smaller company, you are still covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The first step that should be taken by an employee who encounters sexual harassment is to notify their harasser that their behavior is inappropriate and offensive.
Next, the employee needs to file a claim with their supervisor or the HR department, and there should be some protocol in place or guidelines governing how sexual harassment claims at work are handled. To make sure that you are protected from retaliation and that you have taken all the steps necessary to notify the proper authorities to make the sexual harassment stop, it is best to hire a Maryland sexual harassment lawyer. They will likely have you file a claim in both federal and state court. You can file on a federal level through the Equal Opportunities Employment Act.
Am I entitled to damages if I am the victim of sexual harassment?
If you suffer from sexual harassment, you may be able to sue your employer and hold them liable, but only under specific conditions. First, you must be able to prove that your employer was aware that the sexual harassment was happening and that you notified the proper people. Second, you must show that your employer did nothing to ameliorate the situation or to stop you from incurring damages, either economic or noneconomic.
The only way to know for sure if you are entitled to either compensatory or punitive damages is to contact USAttorneys.com to speak with a Maryland sexual harassment attorney, who can guide you through the process of filing a claim to help make the harassment stop and return you to a peaceful and productive work environment.