Articles Tagged with Employment Law

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On May 23, 2024, after nearly a year of motions practice, Judge George L. Russell III of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland granted plaintiff’s motion to remand its putative class action to state court. Serving as local counsel, Silverman Thompson filed the class action in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on January 19, 2023. The plaintiff, who has been employed as an hourly, non-exempt worker at Johns Hopkins Hospital (“Johns Hopkins”) for over thirty years, contends that Johns Hopkins has a policy of rounding employees’ hours resulting in illegal withholding of wages, failure to pay minimum wage, and failure to pay overtime wages in violation of the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law.

Johns Hopkins removed the matter to federal court more than seven months after receiving the complaint on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Johns Hopkins argued that the United States District Court for the District of Maryland had jurisdiction pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, which provides the court subject matter jurisdiction over employment disputes governed by collective bargaining agreements. Plaintiff promptly filed a motion to remand maintaining that Johns Hopkins’ removal was untimely – in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1446, Johns Hopkins had thirty days following receipt of the complaint to file a notice of dismissal.

In its opposition, Johns Hopkins declared that its removal was timely because it first became aware on August 11, 2023, after analyzing the plaintiff’s opposition to Johns Hopkins’s motion for summary judgment, that the resolution of the claims brought against it require interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement. Consequently, Johns Hopkins argued that it filed its notice of removal twenty days after its alleged discovery and within the time limitation prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 1446.

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Employers must be aware of, and revise their employment-related documents to reflect, the recent changes to Maryland and federal law.  One of a Company’s most powerful way to deter future litigation is by ensuring that its agreements, handbooks, and policies are legally compliant.

Companies often face claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation by their employees.  As such, it is imperative that employers are cognizant of the Maryland legislature’s substantial expansion of anti-discrimination and harassment laws.  With the passage of SB 450, the Maryland legislature adopted a less stringent standard of determining harassment, allowing employees to establish that they have been the subject of harassment based on the “totality of the circumstances.” Additionally, Maryland has imposed greater requirements for employers to reasonably accommodate not only employees’ disabilities but also an applicants’ disabilities.  Finally, the Office of the Attorney General can now independently initiate investigations of federal and state civil rights violations and file a lawsuit on behalf of the employees in Maryland, making it even more essential that employers properly handle complaints of discrimination. 

Although Maryland has long disfavored the use of non-competition agreements, it has recently made non-compete and conflict of interest provisions unenforceable against employees earning less than 150% of the state’s applicable minimum wage.  The legislature has also taken great strides to provide paid time off for employees requiring medical leave for themselves or for those of eligible family members.  The Time to Care Act created a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI), pursuant to which eligible employees would receive twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave, with the possibility of 12 additional weeks of paid parental leave (for a possible of 24 weeks of paid leave).  Under the FAMLI rules, contributions will be made by employees and employers with 15 or more employees, as well as self-employed individuals who opt-in to the program.  Employees who work for a company with less than 15 employees will make the full contributions themselves.  Contributions will commence on October 1, 2024, with benefits first becoming available as of January 1, 2026.

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