When it comes to ending a worker’s employment, there are several laws that Maryland employers must comply with. For instance, it may be a violation of the state’s employment laws if an employer fires a worker based on his or her race, sex or religion. Further, it is considered illegal for employers to infringe upon the terms of any contracts that exist between them and their workers. Such violations may allow employees the right to file lawsuits against their employers. At-will employment is essential to wrongful termination laws in Maryland.
At-will Employment in Maryland
Maryland is one of many states that have established at-will employment laws. This doctrine allows employers in the state to terminate a worker’s employment for any reason and at any time. However, this is only the case if there is no other regulation governing the relationship and the worker does not have a contract that specifies otherwise. Although these laws are in place, there are a number of important exceptions. In certain circumstances, these limit employers’ rights to terminate workers.
Wrongful Termination in Maryland
There are a number of exceptions to the at-will doctrine that are recognized in Maryland. If companies fire workers under these exceptions, it may be a violation of the state’s employment laws. Consequently, employers may have legal action taken against them. Through these types of claims, an employee may be reinstated to his or her job. Additionally, he or she may be able to obtain compensation, including punitive damages, back pay, front pay and reasonable accommodations, as well as reimbursement of legal fees.
Breach of Contract: Any time employers and employees sign contracts, violating the terms may result in a lawsuit. Sometimes, employment contracts may specify that the worker is not an at-will employee. Such stipulations effectually forfeit a company’s ability to end a worker’s employment at any time without a valid reason. Some contracts may indicate the only circumstances in which a worker may be fired. This may include inadequate performance, among other factors. In order to avoid the potential legal consequences, it is important for companies to honor the terms of any employment contract, oral or written.
Discrimination: The majority of wrongful termination cases involve discrimination of some kind. Federal law prevents employers from terminating workers based on factors including the following: genetic information, age, sex, pregnancy, race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion or citizenship status. Maryland shares these laws and also prohibits discrimination based on workers’ military service. Employers in the state are further prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their marital status, political affiliation or wage attachment for any type of indebtedness.
Retaliation: The laws in Maryland that govern discriminatory practices also specify that employers cannot fire or otherwise retaliate against workers who file discrimination complaints, participate in discrimination investigations or otherwise assert their legal rights. These are considered protected activities and include efforts to end discriminatory practices and testifying in court.
Maryland state law also prevents retaliation against workers for the following: attempting to enforce their rights to receive the minimum wage or overtime, taking leave to serve in the military, taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, asserting their rights to work in a healthy and safe workplace, or reporting to jury duty. In addition, Maryland law prohibits employers from terminating workers who have returned from uniformed service without cause for up to one year after their reinstatement.
Public Policy: Maryland’s wrongful termination laws include a public policy exception. This prevents employers from firing workers if doing so would violate an established public policy in the state. For example, under state law, companies cannot fire employees for filing workers’ compensation claims. Likewise, workers cannot be discharged because they refuse to comply with a request from their employers to do something illegal.
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