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Maryland Employers Take Note: State Mandates Reasonable Accommodations for All Job Applicants With a Disability

Last month, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law HB 78, which amends the state’s equal employment opportunity law to require employers to reasonably accommodate a job applicant’s known disability. 
On

The Act can be found here.

The new enactment goes beyond analogous ADA requirements. Unlike the ADA, HB 78 extends to all job applicants with a disability, not just those who are “otherwise qualified” for employment.

The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, the agency responsible for enforcing Maryland’s EEO laws, applauds HB 78’s broader reach.

Requiring an applicant with a disability to establish being ‘a qualified applicant’ prior to receiving a reasonable accommodation to even apply for a job creates an additional barrier. The application and the interview process are tools by which an employer first determines an applicant’s qualification. An applicant without a disability is not required to establish being qualified before applying for a job because there is no need for that person to request a reasonable accommodation.

- Memorandum from State of Maryland Commission on Civil Rights to Chairperson Wilson, Vice Chairperson Crosby, and Members of the House Economic Matters Committee (Jan. 25, 2022).

By eschewing the ADA’s “otherwise qualified” requirement, HB 78 likely will increase the pool of potential plaintiffs and the cost to employers of litigating and settling covered cases. The new law is scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2022.

ArentFox Schiff will continue to monitor and report on developments regarding HB 78. In the meantime, we encourage readers with questions to contact the author, or your ArentFox Schiff counsel, to discuss them.

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