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Under state and federal law, employees in Maryland are entitled to certain protections with regard to payment of wages and unpaid overtime. With more than 17 years of experience representing employers and employees in Maryland, employment law attorney Joyce E. Smithey brings a wealth of insights to pursuing and defending against wage and hour violation claims.
In Maryland, wage and hour issues are governed by the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (the “Maryland Wage Payment Law”), the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). All three laws apply to employers in the private sector, while government employers are exempt from the Maryland statutes and must only comply with the FLSA. Together, these laws provide several important protections for qualifying employees in Maryland; and, when employers violate these protections, employees are well within their rights to hold them accountable.
Common Wage and Hour Disputes
The Maryland Wage Payment Law, Maryland Wage and Hour Law, and FLSA cover a wide range of issues pertaining to payment of wages, paid and unpaid overtime, and other matters involving employee compensation. Some of the issues that most frequently lead to disputes between employers and employees in Maryland include the following:
- Discrimination in Compensation – The Maryland Wage Payment Law and Maryland Wage and Hour Law prohibit private sector employers from basing an employee’s compensation, in whole or in part, on the employee’s age or immigration status. Other discriminatory basis for wage and hour decisions can lead to claims, as well.
- Disputes Over Commissions – For employees who work on commission, disputes often arise over issues such as how commissions are calculated, when the employee has performed all necessary tasks to earn commissions, and when earned commissions are due. Even when employers and employees believe that they have carefully memorialized their understanding in writing, disputes still frequently arise with regard to the parties’ differing understandings of the terms of their agreement.
- Improper Wage Deductions – Other than as expressly permitted by law, employers are only permitted to make deductions from employees’ wages in certain, limited circumstances. These include things like (i) receipt of a court order for wage garnishment, (ii) approval from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, and (iii) written authorization from the employee. If the employee can show that his or her employer acted in bad faith in improperly withholding wages, in some cases the Maryland courts can award costs, attorneys’ fees, and triple damages.
- Nonpayment of Wages Upon Termination – Nonpayment of wages upon termination is a similar issue that can have similar consequences for employers. Except to the extent of any permissible wage deductions, employers in Maryland must pay their employees all wages earned through the date of termination.
- On–Call and Travel Time – Determining whether an employee is entitled to compensation for time spent “on call” or traveling between work locations involves a fact-intensive analysis – and as a result frequently leads to disputes between employers and employees. While commuting time is generally non-compensable, employees frequently must be paid for other forms of travel. Similarly, while employees who are only on call for unlikely emergencies may not be entitled to wages during their on-call time, in other scenarios on-call employees will be entitled to payment for their “nonproductive” hours.
- Overtime – In Maryland, “non-exempt” employees are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked in excess of the standard 40-hour work week. By law, overtime must be compensated at one and a half times the employee’s standard hourly wage rate. Determining whether an employee is “exempt” is not always a straightforward process, and disputes frequently arise regarding employees’ right to overtime pay.
- Paid Time Off (Vacation Pay and Sick Leave) – As employers adapt to employees’ increasing desire for flexibility and seek to grasp a competitive edge in the job market, many companies’ policies regarding paid time off, vacation pay, and sick leave have changed drastically from what they once were. While Maryland employers have a certain amount of flexibility with regard to establishing policies for paid time off and financial compensation for accrued time, once they have policies in place, violating those policies can lead to valid claims by their employees.
Contact Maryland Employment Attorney Joyce E. Smithey
If you are an employer or employee in Maryland and you have questions about your rights with regard to state or federal wage and hour requirements, employment lawyer Joyce E. Smithey will be happy to discuss your situation in confidence. To schedule an appointment, call (410) 269-5066 or get in touch online today.