Maryland Court Reins in Appeal Rights From MCCR Determinations

Peter Saucier
Peter Saucier

Every person who claims to be discriminated against by an employer has the right to have that charge examined by the Maryland Commission for Civil Rights (MCCR). The claims of charging parties are fully investigated by the MCCR, including procedures to obtain documents, data and testimony.  That process includes an appeal within the MCCR, and the right to seek further review in the Maryland Circuit Court system.  Employers confronted with charges of discrimination want to know when the matter will end.

The Supreme Court of Maryland ruled on March 29, 2023, that appeal rights of a charging party who loses before the MCCR are limited.  In a 4-3 split decision, the Supreme Court majority held that judicial review of an MCCR determination “ends at the circuit court.” Rowe v. MCCR,  The dissenting justices would have permitted appeals in higher Maryland state courts that routinely take a year or longer to complete.  Naturally, those appeals include the ongoing costs of litigation.  

This decision does not mean that the employer then is safe from liability. A person who asserts discrimination can pursue a matter that also falls with the jurisdiction of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in that separate forum after the MCCR. Moreover, win or lose before the EEOC, the charging party has the right to sue in federal court.  Still, the Maryland Supreme Court offers hope that the process will end.

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