The state of Maryland “provides every Marylander equal protection in employment,” it says on its website. It sounds good, but what does it really mean? Which forms of discrimination are you protected from?
It means that your employer cannot discriminate against you regardless of your race, gender, age or ethnicity. Also, you can’t be discriminated against on the basis of your religion, national origin, disability (physical or mental), your color, marital status, genetic information or sexual orientation.
That’s a pretty long list. But it means an employer can do certain things (hire you or fire you, change your hours, promote a co-worker ahead of you, etc.), but not because you’re African-American, female, older, dark-skinned, married and so on.
And it’s not only employers prevented from discrimination on these factors, but labor unions as well can’t deny membership to someone because of race, religion, age, gender, etc. Same thing for employment agencies; they can’t discriminate against you (for national origin, ethnicity, color, etc.) in job referrals “or circulate information that unlawfully limits employment.”
An employment agency can deny a job referral to you on the basis of merit – say, you are not qualified for certain positions – but not on the basis of sexual orientation, disability, marital status, race, etc.
Lastly, let’s say you have experienced unlawful discrimination in your workplace and have decided to discuss your situation with an employment law attorney and file a discrimination complaint or proceed with litigation. Your employer is prohibited by law from then retaliating against you. If retaliation occurs, this is again something to discuss with an employment law attorney.