Effective October 1, 2019, employers committing multiple violations of Maryland’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act may face civil penalties in addition to compensatory and liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees. (House Bill 790). The Equal Pay Remedies and Enforcement Act provides that the Commission of Labor Licensing and Regulation may assess a civil penalty equal to 10% of the amount of damages owed by the employer against employers who have committed two or more violations of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act in the preceding three years. These additional civil penalties are intended to offset the administrative costs incurred to investigate and bring corrective actions related to equal pay claims in Maryland.
The statute still prohibits an employer from:
- willfully violating any provision in the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act;
- hindering, delaying or otherwise interfering with the Commissioner or an authorized representative;
- refusing entry to the Commissioner or authorized representative into a place of employment they are authorized to inspect;
- discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee because the employee:
- makes a complaint;
- brings an action; or
- has testified or will testify in an action.
The Commissioner may bring an action for injunctive relief and damages against a violating employer. The violating employer will also be guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction will be subject to a fine not exceeding $300.
Conducting internal audits to determine that employer policies and practices related to gender pay equality are in compliance with state requirements will help employers avoid the increasing cost associated with defending claims for violations of Maryland’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. Employers with questions about specific employer policies and practices as they relate to equal pay requirements are encouraged to contact the attorneys in PK Law’s Labor and Employment Group.
Mr. Burkhouse is a Member with PK Law and is part of the firm’s Education, Labor and Employment Group. As part of Mr. Burkhouse’s employment law practice he counsels and represents employers regarding employment discrimination claims arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Mr. Burkhouse also advises employers with regard to non-compete agreements, restrictive covenants, arbitration agreements, trade secrets, confidentiality agreements, and employee hiring and termination procedures. Mr. Burkhouse can be reached at(410) 740-3150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.