The #MeToo movement claimed another victory last month as Maryland passed a law requiring the disclosure of sexual harassment in the workplace. This comes on the heels of efforts by the federal government to expose sexual harassment by forbidding employers from deducting the costs of confidential settlements.
Maryland’s Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018, which takes effect on October 1, 2018, impacts employers in two ways. First, the law prevents employers from asking employees to waive their future rights to come forward with sexual harassment complaints and provides that any such waivers are void.
Second, the law requires employers with at least 50 employees to disclose: 1) how many settlements the employer has made after a sexual harassment allegation; 2) how many times an employer has settled allegations of sexual harassment made against the same employee; and 3) the number of settlements of sexual harassment complaints that included non-disclosure provisions. The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights will collect and compile this data and make it available to the public starting in 2020.
Employers who require employees to remain silent about sexual harassment allegations are coming under increasing legal scrutiny. It may be worthwhile reconsidering whether such confidentiality provisions are necessary. Also, employers should be doing periodic sexual harassment training. Ancel Glink offers such training, so feel free to contact us to set this up.