WHAT PROTECTIVE LAWS DOES MARYLAND HAVE REGARDING EMPLOYMENT AND TERMINATION?
In Maryland, employees work “at the will” of their employers. This means, unless there is an express contract, agreement or policy to the contrary, an employee may be hired or fired for almost any reason — whether fair or not — or for no reason at all.
ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS TO THE WORK-AT-WILL RULE?
Yes, but it has to do with specific protections under Federal and State law to employees from illegal discrimination based on such categories as race, color, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability or marital status.
ARE THERE ANY LAWS THAT PROHIBIT EMPLOYERS FROM ASKING ABOUT CRIMINAL BACKGROUNDS WHEN APPLYING FOR A JOB?
The Office of Fair Practices has provided a guide tool for employers regarding pre-employment inquiries which cautions employers not to ask about an applicant’s arrest record or general conviction record.
Employers should only ask about convictions that might have a direct relationship to the kind of job being sought that have not been expunged or sealed.
Also, employers should consider these things when reviewing a criminal record:
- the nature of the crime
- how recent it was
- any efforts that the applicant has made at rehabilitation
With this in mind, it is a good idea to have proof of the programs that you have completed or are attending to demonstrate your rehabilitative efforts.
WHAT IF I HAVE HAD MY RECORD EXPUNGED? DO I HAVE TO TELL AN EMPLOYER ABOUT THE RECORD IF HE/SHE ASKS?
Maryland law prohibits employers from specifically asking applicants about criminal charges that have been expunged.
This is why it is so important to clean up your record before looking for a job.
DOES MARYLAND HAVE A ‘BAN THE BOX’ LAW?
Yes. But in Maryland, Ban the Box applies only to state applications.
This prohibits authorities in the Judicial, Legislative and Executive branches of the Maryland State Government from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until after the applicant has been interviewed.
Several exceptions to this law exist, including positions within the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, a position in which there is a statutory duty to conduct a criminal history check and/or a position in the sheriff’s office in any county.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER EMPLOYERS WHO HAVE TO ABIDE BY “BAN THE BOX”?
Yes. Baltimore has a Fair Chance Hiring Law to help people with criminal backgrounds have a fair chance to work.
Employers in Baltimore City cannot ask you about your criminal history on a job application.
It is also illegal for employers in Baltimore City to ask about your criminal background during a job interview.
CAN EMPLOYERS IN BALTIMORE CITY DO A CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK THEN?
Yes. Employers in Baltimore City can do a criminal background check but only AFTER a conditional offer of employment is made. Whether or not you are hired after this step, though, may depend on the results of that background check.
You will know if a background check will be done because written consent is required.
If one is to be done, it would be a good idea to briefly discuss your background while signing the consent.
WHAT IS A CONDITIONAL OFFER?
A conditional offer of employment is a job offer that is pending and depends on upon the successful screenings that are in place and used for every applicant. These pre-employment screening may be such things as drug testing, a skill test, or a criminal background check.
ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS FOR EMPLOYERS TO BALTIMORE’S FAIR CHANCE HIRING LAW?
Yes. There are exceptions to certain employers under this law.
Those employers include any that provide programs, services, or direct care to minors or to vulnerable adults.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I FEEL THAT AN EMPLOYER HAS NOT FOLLOWED BALTIMORE’S FAIR CHANCE HIRING LAW?
If you feel that an employer has violated your rights under this law, you can file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement.
Contact: Office of Civil Rights an Wage Enforcement
7 E. Redwood Street – 9th Floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21202