• 2015 Maryland General Assembly Employment Legislation Update
  • May 13, 2015
  • Law Firm: Shawe Rosenthal LLP - Baltimore Office
  • During the Maryland General Assembly session that ended in April 2015, Shawe Rosenthal lawyers again worked with the Maryland Chamber of Commerce to oppose or moderate legislation that would adversely affect employers. Several employment bills were passed and have been or are expected to be signed by the Governor.
    • Maryland Second Chance Act of 2015. This law permits an individual to petition the court to shield certain misdemeanor convictions from public disclosure. Once a conviction is shielded, that means it will not be disclosed as part of a criminal record background check to third parties, including employers, unless one of the exceptions below applies. The law further specifically prohibits employers who conduct a criminal background check from requiring applicants to disclose if they have any such shielded convictions, or from discharging or refusing to hire an individual because that person refuses to disclose shielded convictions.
    The misdemeanor convictions that may be shielded are: disorderly conduct; disturbing the peace; failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order; malicious destruction of property; trespass; possessing or administering a controlled dangerous substance (specific and extensive lists of opiates, hallucinogens, and depressants - including, for example, marijuana and heroin - set forth in the criminal statute); possessing or administering a noncontrolled substance (that the individual believes is a controlled dangerous substance); use of or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia; driving without a license; driving while privilege is canceled, suspended, refused or revoked; driving while uninsured; and prostitution.

    The law sets forth certain exceptions to shielding applicable to employers, including: those who are required or authorized by statute or regulation to conduct criminal background checks; those using volunteers who care for or supervise children; and those who employ or seek to employ a caregiver for a minor or vulnerable adult (meaning someone lacking the mental or physical capacity to provide for his/her own daily needs).
    • Employment Discrimination Protection for Interns. The employment anti-discrimination, reasonable accommodation, and anti-retaliation provisions under Maryland law are extended to unpaid interns and applicants for internships. The law defines “intern” as an individual who performs work for an employer for training purposes if: (1) there is no commitment to hire at the end of the training period; (2) there is agreement that the individual is not entitled to wages; and (3) the work supplements training in an education environment, provides experience for the benefit of the individual, does not displace regular employees, and is performed under close supervision by the employer’s staff. An intern alleging a violation may utilize an employer’s internal complaint procedures, or may file a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights for non-monetary remedies.
    • Flexible Leave Act Amendments. The Maryland Flexible Leave Act, which permits employees to use accrued paid leave to care for an injured or ill family member, was amended to prohibit employers and employees from entering into any agreement to waive the provisions of the Act. Also, requesting to use MFLA leave has now been added to the existing protected activities of (1) taking leave, (2) opposing an unlawful practice under the law, or (3) making a charge, testifying, assisting, or participating in an investigation, proceeding or hearing by the Maryland Department of Licensing and Labor Regulation on a potential violation.
    Also of note, although the paid sick leave bill was unsuccessful this General Assembly session, the Maryland Chamber has received a letter from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Mike Miller and House Economic Matters Committee Chairman Dereck Davis, requesting the Chamber to meet with a proponent of the bill, the Job Opportunities Task Force. The joint chairmen have asked the parties to determine if there is any common ground that can be achieved on paid sick leave. It is clear that the paid sick leave bill will be re-introduced in the next General Assembly session.