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What can an employer ask Maryland

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  • What can an employer ask Maryland

    We have been cautioned not to ask or that our employer has no right to ask questions of us. Understanding that during hiring process an employer is not to ask about pregnancy but what about if you are already hired and you need to communicate that you will be taking maternity leave. What are you obligated to tell the employer if anything at all.

    Same question with someone who is ill or appears to be ill. Is the employer allowed to ask questions if it is reasonable to assume that the illness is or might have an impact on their ability to carry out their duties. For example, person cannot travel (normal part of their duties) because they appear to have a limiting condition that could prohibit travel. What is the employee obligated to tell and what can an employer legally ask?

    What about someone who will become eligible for retirement and you suspect plans to retire on his birthday. Can you ask anything and if so what and whom can ask? Concern isn't that the employee might retire so much as the ability to backfill the position. If the employee doesn't say and the employer doesn't ask would the employer get in trouble for conducting interviews prior to the suspected retirement date?

    We are co-workers who have probably "heard" more than management but are wondering about what the employee is obligated to tell. We have been told to be hush hush and don't ask anything. This seems somewhat reasonable in theory but unreasonable to the employer that technically they cannot ask you if you are going to be there the next day, for travel or beyond your birthday. I am asking because I want to know what I as an employee am obligated to do and if I am out of line being involved in conversations about the employee's (suspected) retirement. Are the people advising us just being paranoid?

  • #2
    I'm not sure where the belief started that an employer can not ask employees about things like leave plans, work restrictions and retirement plans but they are false. The employer absolutely may ask an employee about maternity leave plans, when an employee plans to retire, and may discuss work retrsictions.

    Employees requesting leave under FMLA need to give the employer at least 30 days notice of their plans to take leave (included maternity) whenever possible. However, there is nothing wrong with a manager sitting down with a 7 month pregnant employee who has not shared her plans and asking her what those plans may be. Whether the employee wishes to disclose the pregnancy or plans before then is up to them. There is no right or wrong answer.

    If an employee can not travel due to a medical reason and the job involves travel, the employee would be well served to let the employer know asap. Or at least before next scheduled to travel. That is just common sense.

    Same goes with those planning to retire. There are no hard and fast rules about when to announce this but decency dictates you let the employer know with some level of advance warning. If the rumor mill is abuzz that an employee is planning to retire this year, it is entirely appropriate for the manager or HR to sit down with that employee and ask if it is true.

    Employers don't have to bury their heads in the sand or ignore the elephant in the room.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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    • #3
      Thank you!!

      What you said was my understanding and what I have experienced with other employers. I thought maybe there was something I had missed.

      Comment


      • #4
        So what Can't they ask

        After you are hired is there anything they cannot ask?

        One would assume that you would tell them and get permission to take leave be it a few hours or a few days but you don't necessarily have to tell them why you are taking leave do you ? (understanding that it may impact their decision) For example, doctors appointment versus attorney visit versus attending a conference at your child's school ...

        I know that some employers used to ask for a note from your doctor if you are sick and need to be away from work.

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        • #5
          They are entitled to enough information to decide what kind of leave is applicable. For example, a doctor's appointment or a child's school visit might fall under FMLA or a Small Necessities Leave Act (if your state has one), which is protected leave. An appointment with an attorney, or even just running out to renew your driver's license, is not protected. Exactly how much information that is going to be, is situation specific.

          By refusing to give them any information at all, you not only run the risk of having them deny leave, but of losing access to a leave that is protected under the law.
          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by QuestionMisconception View Post
            Same question with someone who is ill or appears to be ill. Is the employer allowed to ask questions if it is reasonable to assume that the illness is or might have an impact on their ability to carry out their duties. For example, person cannot travel (normal part of their duties) because they appear to have a limiting condition that could prohibit travel. What is the employee obligated to tell and what can an employer legally ask?
            The employer should not ask about the apparently limiting condition. If the employer has a reasonable basis for doing so, the employer may ask if the employee is able to perform the essential functions of his or her job with or without reasonable accommodations. It is better, however, for the employer not to ask, and to simply address performance deficiencies (if any) the same as with any other employee. It would be incumbent on the employee to disclose the need for accommodation.

            What about someone who will become eligible for retirement and you suspect plans to retire on his birthday. Can you ask anything and if so what and whom can ask? Concern isn't that the employee might retire so much as the ability to backfill the position. If the employee doesn't say and the employer doesn't ask would the employer get in trouble for conducting interviews prior to the suspected retirement date?
            Employers should not routinely ask older workers when, or if, they plan to retire. Such an inquiry could suggest an undue focus on age. If someone who answers "no" is thereafter terminated they can use that question as circumstantial evidence that the employer had their age in mind.

            If the employer has a reasonable basis for believing that an employee of any age plans to resign or retire, then the employer may inquire whether that suspicion is true.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by QuestionMisconception View Post
              After you are hired is there anything they cannot ask?

              One would assume that you would tell them and get permission to take leave be it a few hours or a few days but you don't necessarily have to tell them why you are taking leave do you ? (understanding that it may impact their decision) For example, doctors appointment versus attorney visit versus attending a conference at your child's school ...

              I know that some employers used to ask for a note from your doctor if you are sick and need to be away from work.
              There no questions that an employer flat out can not ask an employee. There may be questions that are ill advised or answers which may not be used as the basis for making employment decisions. In general, as long as you aren't using the information to discriminate on the basis or a legally protected characteristic, and have a business related reason for asking (such as to participate in the ADA interactive process or administer leave), you are fine.
              I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

              Comment

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