With the start of summer 2020, many businesses have fully transitioned to the "new normal" of remote work. Employers and employees alike may have adapted to the shift from physical to virtual offices, but the realities of workplace harassment have not changed. Thus, employers must still comply with their obligations under state and local anti-harassment regulations.
Maryland employers should remember the 2018 Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act (the Act), which created a disclosure survey for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (the Commission) to collect data on sexual harassment settlements across two reporting cycles.
Per the survey, Maryland employers with 50 or more employees must electronically identify:
- (1) The number of settlements made by or on behalf of the employer after an allegation of sexual harassment by an employee;
- (2) The number of times the employer has paid a settlement to resolve a sexual harassment allegation against the same employee over the past 10 years of employment; and
- (3) The number of settlements made after an allegation of sexual harassment that included a provision requiring both parties to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.
If an employer affirmatively answers Question 2, the employer must also answer: "Whether the employer took personnel action against an employee who was the subject of a settlement."
The current reporting cycle ends on July 1, 2020. On or before December 15, 2020, the Commission will submit an executive summary of their review of a random selection of surveys, redacting any identifying employer information, to Maryland's Governor, Senate Finance Committee, and House Economic Matters Committee. The Commission will also publish the aggregate number of responses from employers on its website—responses to Question 2 will be retained for public inspection, upon request.
Although the Act establishes a mandatory reporting requirement—employers "shall submit a short survey to the Commission"—the Act does not establish penalties or enforcement mechanisms for an employer's underreporting or failure to report.
DWT attorneys are available to help employers comply with state-specific anti-harassment reporting, training, and notice requirements and establish workplaces free from all forms of harassment.