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HB289 & SB105 Workplace Violence - Peace Orders Passed 4/12/2021

    A messge from Greta Engle Kessler regarding the passing of HB289 & SB105:

    I want to thank our HR community for every ounce of effort over this past legislative session but also with special thanks for keeping up the pressure with a last-minute push to ensure our passion project made it through after 20 years of pushing for it. Between Christine Walters grass roots efforts, which lead to Justin Ready sponsoring this bill 3 years ago. HR Advocate and trusted advisor/labor attorney, Jay Fries, writing the original language to where we are today was no small effort. Cheryl Brown picked right up and forged an alliance with Delegate Atterbeary who stayed in to support the bill over the last 2 years. What we don’t see in our outside view is the internal partisanship. It’s as unsavory as it is in Washington. Even on bi-partisan issues like ours, this should’ve never taken so long.

    I want to extend a special thank you to Paige Boughan. When our bill got moved off of the “laid over” calendar, there was still an agreement needed after this passed both houses around bill amendments. The “laid over” calendar action was purely political. Paige jumped right in on Linked In live and appealed one last time publicly to keep things on track. We tweeted, we posted and got the attention of Senator Sydnor and Delegate Atterbeary both of whom had to agree on a final version before this headed to the Governor for signing. Some of our posts got over 12,000 views on Linked In! Senator Sydnor liked a Tweet we posted in support of the legislation.

    We can also thank the Maryland Nurses, the Hospital Association, our frontline healthcare workers who are often targets of violence at work from their own patients. They were leading this year’s efforts given how much they’ve all been impacted in the pandemic. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce has new legislative representation in Annapolis. They weighed in their support as well. I’ve been extremely impressed with their team’s strategic approach and ability to balance both parties’ arguments and concerns for the benefit of Maryland’s job creators.

    The Governor is not expected to veto HB289. Both the Senate and House had to agree to the final version through conference committee. This was made up of 3 Delegates and 3 Senators. We had support on both sides, but it still got sticky.  In the end, the only way for Delegate Atterbeary’ s version to get through was a compromise to the Senate on employer immunity. If she hadn’t compromised, we’d be starting all over again next year. What does this mean? Employers are immune from civil liability from the failure of the employer to file a petition on behalf of an employee until 10/1/2023. This law will go into effect unless vetoed on 10/1/21. We don’t like the sunsetting of the immunity provision; this is untested territory. That said, we will be monitoring this closely. We can now focus our efforts on amending this provision without having to start completely from scratch.

    As a reminder, employers may not retaliate against an employee who doesn’t provide information or testify at a proceeding for their own safety. There is a shielding provision which can be exercised by the individual and the employer to protect personal identity.

    I’ve attached the final version which again has not been signed yet by the Governor.

    Please feel free to distribute this to your members and thank your elected officials and join me in thanking Christine Walters, Cheryl Brown, and all HR Advocates!

    Best,

    Greta Engle Kessler

    Vice President Employee Benefits

    USI Insurance Services 

    Hunt Valley, MD 21030

    410-773-4200 | c: 410-935-5560

    greta.engle@usi.com | www.usi.com