On March 27, 2014, the Maryland House of Delegates passed the Fairness to all Marylanders Act of 2014 (the Act), which expands upon Maryland’s already broad anti-discrimination law. The law, which previously banned discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, or genetic information, now also prevents discrimination based on gender identity. Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to sign the bill into law imminently.
The Act defines “gender identity” as a “gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual regardless of an individual’s assigned sex at birth.” The Act prohibits an employer from failing or refusing to hire, or from discharging or otherwise discriminating against any individual with respect to the individual’s compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on the employee’s gender identity.
The law does not prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to adhere to reasonable workplace appearance, grooming, and dress standards that are directly related to the nature of the employment of the employee, as long as the dress is consistent with the employee’s gender identity. Therefore, a restaurant, for example, could require all employees to wear black, but it could not require a genetically female employee to wear dresses if that requirement ran contrary to her gender identity.
By passing the Act, Maryland joins several other jurisdictions that have banned gender identity discrimination, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Other states, such as Michigan and Kansas, have banned transgender discrimination by state agencies through executive order.
The Act goes into effect on October 1, 2014. It will also prohibit gender identity discrimination in the areas of housing, credit, and public accommodations.