Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Rachel Severance, an associate in our Washington D.C. office:

On October 1, 2016, new requirements affecting Maryland employers go into effect, expanding the scope of Maryland’s current non-discrimination statute.

The Maryland General Assembly expanded Maryland’s Equal Pay for Equal work law, which previously prohibited discrimination based on sex, to also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

The law’s new provisions prohibit an employer from discriminating between employees in any occupation by (1) paying a wage to employees of one gender identity at a rate less than the rate paid to other employees under specified conditions and (2) providing less favorable employment opportunities, as defined by the bill, based on sex or gender identity.

The definition of “less favorable employment opportunities” was also expanded to mean (1) assigning or directing the employee into a less favorable career track, if career tracks are offered, or position; (2) failing to provide information about promotions or advancement in the full range of career tracks offered by the employer; or (3) limiting or depriving an employee of employment opportunities that would otherwise be available to the employee but for the employee’s sex or gender identity. Specified exceptions allow for variations in wages in some situations as long as the reason for the variation is not derived from sex or gender identity.

Additionally, the law provides that an employer may not prohibit an employee from inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing the wages of the employee or another employee or requesting that the employer provide a reason for why the employee’s wages are a condition of employment.

As a result, Maryland employers need to carefully review both their policies and benefits programs to ensure compliance with these new mandates.