All employees in Maryland deserve to be fairly paid for the hours they work and to be employed in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. Unfortunately, employers do not always live up to their legal duties with respect to their employees—but the laws do provide remedies to help correct the situation.
Failure to pay overtime, illegal discrimination, allowing sexual harassment, retaliating against employees who assert their rights, and other such violations of employment law can be addressed by legal action. If you feel that your legal rights in the workplace have been ignored, take a few minutes to talk to a Maryland employment lawyer.
Harassment and Hostile Work Environments
While U.S. and Maryland laws cannot protect employees from all types of hostility in the workplace, the laws do provide legal remedies in certain situations. If an employee faces harassment which their employer knew or should have known about, and the employer failed to take adequate action to end the harassment, then the situation may be one which violates the law.
In order to constitute a violation, the harassment must be based on a protected characteristic such as age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. In addition, it must be shown that the harassment was so pervasive or severe that it changed the conditions of employment and established an abusive atmosphere.
The most common form of workplace harassment that results in legal challenges is sexual harassment. An employee may suffer from sexual harassment in the workplace if, for example, a coworker or supervisor suggests that submission to sexual advances will result in preferential treatment or prevent adverse actions. A hostile environment created by the presence of frequent sexual jokes, comments, or pictures may also constitute sexual harassment and should be addressed with the help of a Maryland employment attorney.
Discrimination and Retaliation
Employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of numerous factors described in federal statutes and the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act. In addition, employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against employees who take action to protect their rights or speak out to address a violation of employment law in the workplace.
Wage and Salary Issues
Employees often assume that if they are paid a yearly salary rather than an hourly wage, they are not entitled to overtime pay for working more than 40 hours per week. However, the federal wage and hour laws apply to many salaried employees, and the exemptions to the overtime requirements are more specific than most people realize.
Many employees are entitled to overtime pay yet do not receive it, either because their employer is not aware that it should be paid or because the employer chooses to ignore the definition of exempt employees. In addition, employees often do not receive pay to which they are entitled for working “off the clock” or completing required training.
Employees may also be wrongfully classified as independent contractors, and subsequently denied access to benefits and required to pay their employer’s share of payroll taxes.
Consult a Maryland Employment Attorney Today
When employers violate the laws enacted to protect employees, there are often numerous options to address the issue. These including filing claims at the state or federal level, undergoing negotiations, or filing claims in court.
A Maryland employment lawyer who both knows the relevant laws and regulations and has seen how administrative agencies and courts often apply them could evaluate a potential claim and ascertain the best strategies for moving forward.
If you have suffered from unlawful behavior in the workplace, it is worth taking the time to consult with an attorney who understands workplace issues. Call the Spiggle Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.