Articles Posted in Employment Law

In Maryland, as in many other states, the regulations regarding lunch breaks are an essential aspect of employment law. These laws are designed to ensure that workers receive adequate rest periods during their workday, contributing to their overall well-being and productivity.

The specifics of Maryland’s lunch break laws provide a framework for both employers and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities.

Legal Framework of Lunch Break Law

In Romeka v. RadAmerica II, LLC, a new Maryland Supreme Court opinion, a radiation therapist, sued her former employers, including names we know like MedStar and Helixcare Medical Group.

The basis for her lawsuit was that she was fired and she was fired because she was a whistleblower under the Maryland Health Care Worker Whistleblower Protection Act (HCWWPA).

The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the employers, which was affirmed by the Appellate Court of Maryland. She then petitioned for a writ of certiorari, which was granted by the Supreme Court of Maryland.

The concept of sovereign immunity is a long-standing – many would say antiquated – belief that a state cannot be sued unless it agrees to be.  The Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA), gives this permission for certain cases.  A new case, Williams v. Morgan State, looks at if the MTCA’s agreement to let the state be sued applies to federal cases.

Facts of Williams v. Morgan State

The case started when a woman sued her former employer, Morgan State University, and her old boss, Dean DeWayne Wickham. She said they wrongly fired her for revealing that the University exaggerated some costs and tried to sway the 2016 Baltimore mayor’s race.

The Maryland Daily Record had an article yesterday about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  proposed rule to ban noncompete agreements. The rule would make noncompete agreements illegal for employers and void for employees.

Covenants not to compete, also known as non-compete agreements, are contracts between employers and employees in Maryland that prevent employees from competing with their employers for a specific period of time after termination of employment. These agreements are meant to protect the employer’s business interests, trade secrets, and confidential information.

Let’s look at Maryland covenant not to compete law and the key Maryland cases dealing with covenants not to compete.

Maryland lawmakers recently withdrew a proposal to encourage companies to implement a four-day work week through tax credits.

The proposal, which would have established a five-year pilot program, giving Maryland companies tax credits to reduce weekly work hours to 32 without decreasing pay or benefits for employees. The bill, SB 197, was withdrawn due to concerns about its chances of passing in the state legislature, according to Del. Vaughn Stewart (D), one of the House bill sponsors.

The Four Day Workweek Idea

Four former and current black police officers in Annapolis have filed suit in federal court against the city. The officers claiming they were discriminated against because they are black and, as a result, were turned down for promotions and opportunities to advance.

These kinds of cases are so hard to prove even when they are true. Two of the officers argue disparate treatment which means while the City of Annapolis might use facially neutral employment practices, they have had an unjustified adverse impact on these black officers. In other words, maybe it was not intentional discrimination, but it is.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the city has 26 black officers on its 117-member force, which sounds reasonable. But that does not mean there was no discrimination. You just can’t read a story like this and know what happened.

A federal judge in Baltimore ruled that a gender discrimination lawsuit against Ripken Professional Baseball will continue, rejecting Ripken’s argument that the case should be dismissed or that arbitration should be compelled.

Facts Alleged

Interesting facts. A woman takes a job with Ripken Baseball in 2006 as an Account Representative. She gets promoted to Assistant General Manager of Ticket Sales in 2010. In 2011, she started dating a subordinate employee which she claims happened all the time at Ripken (like it does in the rest of the world) in spite of the fact that the employee handbook says it is a no-no. Ripken – not Cal, I’m referring to the organization – fires her, citing the relationship and, perhaps more importantly, that they told others to lie about the affair. The woman alleges that she was treated differently from her male colleagues who engaged in similar behavior with subordinates.

Big Vanilla has agreed to pay $161,000 to settle a lawsuit the government filed against Big Vanilla for sexual harassment, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to EEOC’s suit, the Big Vanilla violated federal law by sexually harassing several female employees at Big Vanilla in Pasadena and Arnold, Maryland, the two locations the health club has in Anne Arundel County. The EEOC said four women were subjected to repeated and unwanted sexually offensive remarks and sexual advances and that three of the women were fired in retaliation for their complaints about the discrimination.

The EEOC also announced that besides the money Big Vanilla agreed to pay in the settlement, Big Vanilla Pasadena and Big Vanilla Athletic Club also agree to refrain from engaging in harassment on the basis of sex and from retaliating against employees who complain about it.

Big Vanilla in Pasadena and Severna Park is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of four women for the sexual harassment of all four women and the firing of three of them in retaliation for complaining, according to the Maryland Daily Record and the Baltimore Examiner.

Dawn Wooden, Joella Hopkins, Melissa Mendez, and Michelle Cabral said they had been subjected to “repeated, unwanted, sexually offensive remarks and sexual advances” by co-workers and supervisors since December 2006. The commission said the women were discriminated against by Big Vanilla based on their sex and their work environment was “sexually hostile” because of offensive comments and unwanted touching. When they complained, Big Vanilla fired them (with the apparent exception of Ms. Mendez).

The EEOC said it is seeking monetary and injunctive relief against Big Vanilla, including back wages and compensatory damages for the employees, and changes in Big Vanilla’s employment policies.