The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights - The Basics

​​The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights ("MCCR") enforces Maryland's employment law that guarantees equal opportunity regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or genetic information.

Therefore, it is illegal for employers to discriminate in recruiting, interviewing, hiring, setting work conditions, or discharging, based on the above protected categories.

Only employers with 15 or more employees are subject to the law.

Harassment on the basis of one the protected categories listed above, and retaliation for filing a complaint or being involved in the investigation, are also prohibited under law and enforced by MCCR.

A charge of discrimination must be filed with the MCCR within six months of the date the alleged discriminatory act occurred.

If you believe that actions have been taken against you based on discrimination in violation of Maryland law, it is imperative that you contact the MCCR immediately to initiate the process of determining whether you have been a victim of illegal employment discrimination.

Our experienced employment attorneys can guide you through the MCCR process and help you analyze your situation to determine if the actions taken against you meet the threshold of being considered illegal discrimination.

 

MCCR and EEOC "Work-Sharing Agreement"

The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights ("MCCR") is the Maryland state agency equivalent to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

Although the MCCR was created to enforce Maryland’s laws against discrimination in employment, the MCCR has a "work-sharing agreement" with the EEOC, which means that, although the EEOC is a federal agency and the MCCR is a state agency, they work together to handle each other's cases.

While some are of the opinion that complaints filed with the MCCR are automatically filed with the EEOC, we believe it is a prudent practice, when filing a claim with either agency, to indicate that you want to "cross-file" the claim with the other agency.

The work-sharing agreement means that cases are shared or transferred among the agencies. Sometimes the MCCR transfers cases to the EEOC, such as when the allegation is against a federal agency or the complaint is filed after 180 days of the alleged incident. Additionally, the EEOC will often transfer complaints to MCCR where the agency has jurisdiction in order to conduct the investigation. The MCCR also has the ability to request cases for investigation from the EEOC, and that is a practice the agency engages in, in order to process every allegation of unlawful discrimination in Maryland in a timely manner. 

Often, the EEOC or MCCR are backlogged with a heavy load of cases and they may enlist the help of another local agency, such as a county office of human rights, to process claims and investigations.  This can be very helpful for your case as we have experienced tremendous success with this option.

If you are pursuing a discrimination case in Maryland and would like guidance on how to navigate the process, contact our firm to schedule a consultation.

 

The Test for Classifying Workers as Independent Contractors Just “Evolved” Backward

                One of the most confusing areas of labor and employment law is the decision regarding whether a worker may be classified as an independent contractor, or whether the worker must be recognized as an employee.  The stakes are high.  Employees are entitled to all sorts of protections that independent contractors don’t get – unemployment benefits, leave rights (in Maryland), overtime pay (if non-exempt), protection against unlawful discrimination to name a few.  Which explains why employers lean toward misclassifying workers as independent contractors.

                What makes the issue so confusing is that each of the laws affected by a misclassification decision has a different test for determining whether the worker was properly or improperly classified as an independent contractor.  The IRS has its test for income tax purposes.  The DLLR has its test for unemployment benefits purposes.  The Department of Labor has its test for overtime purposes.

                And now, the National Labor Relations Board just changed its test for purposes of filing an unfair labor charge (a ULP) with the NLRB – something that employees may do, but which independent contractors may not.  Employees can file a ULP against their employer, for example, if they believe they were fired simply for joining with other employees to complain about their working conditions – something called, “concerted activity.”

                On January 25, 2019, the NLRB decided to go back to a standard that favors independent contractors – and, therefore, favors employers.  Under President Obama, the NLRB had changed the test to be stacked against independent contractor classification – a move that favored employees.  That decision now has been rejected.

                The thought of navigating this quagmire makes most attorneys go weak in the knees.  At Luchansky Millman, we deal with these issues every day.  If you are facing a classification issue, give us a call at 410.522.1020.

EEOC versus MCCR: Taking Your Case to Court

The following article will be the first in a series discussing cases filed with the United States Equal Employment Commission ("EEOC") and the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights ("MCCR").

One interesting difference between the two agencies is the timeline and procedure for taking your case to court.

Under the EEOC, if the investigation is ongoing, you can request a Notice of Right to Sue, and, upon receipt, you have 90 days to file in federal court.  Similarly, if the EEOC concludes its investigation and does not find probable cause of discrimination, you will typically be issued a Notice of Right to Sue which will enable you file in federal court - within 90 days of receipt of the Notice of Right to Sue.

Pretty straight forward.

Under the MCCR laws, it gets a little trickier - specifically with respect to filing in state court. 

In order to bring the case to court, at least 180 days must have elapsed since the filing of the administrative complaint, and the action must be filed in state court within two years after the "unlawful employment practice" occurred.

For example, if the "unlawful employment practice" was a termination, that, hypothetically happened almost two years ago - this means that - even if the investigation is still ongoing, the two year deadline from the termination is a hard and fast deadline - regardless of the status of the investigation.

Contrast this with the EEOC process: if the EEOC investigation is still ongoing - there is no clock ticking for you to file the claim in federal court - you only need to keep an eye on the EEOC's progress. 

 

If you are pursuing a discrimination case in Maryland and would like guidance on how to navigate this uncertain arena, contact our firm to schedule a consultation.

NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT

We are delighted to announce Judd Millman’s promotion to named partner at our firm, now known as Luchansky Millman - Workplace Law Center. Judd joined our firm in June 2010 and quickly became an indispensable member of our Employment Law legal practice. Judd advanced to partner in 2017 and now takes his place at the top of the masthead. We congratulate Judd and are thrilled that all of us at Luchansky Millman continue to love practicing law together.


Learn more about Judd Millman. (this will link to his profile page).

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