The Maryland legislative session just ended. As always, lots of bills were left on the cutting room floor. But a couple of interesting laws will become law if the Governor signs them.
The most newsworthy bill would prohibit employers from asking their employees or applicants to allow access to their social media sites, such as facebook. While cautionary tales abound about employers using the internet to find out what employees post, many people shield some of their information by erecting privacy walls. A state employee was required to give up his facebook password as a condition to returning to work after a leave of absence, triggering the legislation. According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland is the first state to enact protective legislation, but others are considering similar protections.
A second law seeks to protect employees who serve on juries. Under SB 16 and HB 353, an employer may not schedule an employee for a shift beginning on or after 5 p.m. the day of jury service (or at least four hours of it), or before 3 a.m. the day after jury service.
Finally, a law eases some of the unemployment restrictions. An employee is entitled to unemployment benefits if she quits voluntarily with good cause. The employee has the burden of proof on the good cause, and there are not that many that qualify. A new recognized example of good cause was added to the law, permitting a finding of good cause if continued employment could endanger the safety of the employee, or the employee’s spouse, minor child or parent, if any of whom is a victim of domestic violence. Sometimes a domestic violence victim is safe only if he or she disappears from the reach of the perpetrator. A significant aspect of this law prohibits an employer’s rating record from being charged for the benefits, which should minimize employers’ objections when benefits are sought on this basis.