Articles Posted in Employment Law

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 The bill, SB 197, was withdrawn due to concerns about its chances of passing in the state legislature, according to Del.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.

Interesting facts. 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.

If true, maybe she was discriminated against? But that does not answer the question. Maybe she was discriminated against because she was not as good an employee as the others. The question, in this case, is whether she would have been fired if she was a man. Boy, that is a tough question for a judge or jury to figure out.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake shot down a hospital’s effort to dismiss a nurse’s class suit last week in a Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law case.

The nurse’s claim is that Maryland General Hospital automatically deducts a scheduled meal break from employees’ pay while also requiring employees to work during that unpaid break. So the hospital’s policy is, allegedly, an automatic 30-minute deduction in their daily time records for a scheduled meal break, whether or not they can receive the break. Oh, the inhumanity!

I’m not a huge fan of these types of cases. I think these laws are needed to manage some oppressive working conditions. Think West Virginia coal mine worker. But these are health care workers who are in great demand. Sure, the hospital was screwing over the employee on this lousy lunch break deal. But I bet they did a thousand other things for her that they were not required to do. Now she is cherry-picking the one thing she didn’t like. Ultimately, it is the employer’s job to make the employee happy enough that they want to stay. If she does not like it there, she should leave – which is what she did.

The Maryland General Assembly has approved a bill that would prohibit employers from seeking Facebook and other social media passwords from either job applicants or existing employees. The bill was passed by a wide margin in the House of Delegates and unanimously by the state Senate and now awaits Governor Martin O’Malley’s signature, which it will most certainly get.

Here is what you need to know about the Maryland Chamber of Commerce: they opposed the bill. Why? The Maryland Chamber of Commerce is informed only by what it thinks will help Maryland businesses. If a bill was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly that all employees have to work a weekend shift of 8 hours for no compensation, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce would immediately jump behind the bill.

Fired but possibly rehired Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod says she will pursue a lawsuit against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

What happened was incredibly unfair to Sherrod, and Breitbart should be publicly excoriated for what he did. But I don’t understand why a lawsuit should come from this. Her reputation is fully intact and then some. She was offered her job back. She will write a book and make a fortune (you know it is coming). Things are great. The only way to blow it is to come off looking petty by suing.

The CNN story is here.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued its opinion in Giant v. Taylor, a race and sex discrimination case about a female truck driver for Giant whose problems with her employer began because she was late to work due to gynecological problems. The jury bought her case, awarding her $644,750 after a trial that took over a week.

It is a case worth reading for Maryland employment lawyers, but I did not see much of interest for personal injury lawyers.

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.