When workers in Maryland provide services for an employer, they should receive compensation for their labor. This seems obvious, but it doesn’t always happen. Luckily, Maryland workers have a variety of state remedies to rely on to obtain the compensation they are entitled to in addition to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). The FLSA won’t be discussed in this blog post, but you can read about it in our other blog post titled, “The Fair Labor Standards Act .”
Maryland Wage and Hour Law
The Maryland Wage and Hour Law (MWHL) is Maryland’s version of the FLSA. The MWHL requires employers to pay minimum wage ($10.10 per hour as of July 1, 2018) and overtime pay of at least time-and-a-half for all hours worked more than 40 in a week.
Like the FLSA, the MWHL doesn’t apply to every worker or employer. For instance, it only applies to employees and not independent contractors. There are also various types of jobs and businesses that are exempt from the MWHL’s wage requirements.
For example, certain employees and employers in the farming and agriculture industry are exempt, as are certain executive employees, drive-in theaters and outside salespersons. Many more of the other exceptions to the MWHL’s wage requirements can be found at the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Minimum Wage and Overtime Law page.
Just like with the FLSA, an employee can recover unpaid wages, liquidated damages (equal to the unpaid wage claim) and attorney’s fees and costs. But as with the FLSA, the ability to collect liquidated damages is not absolute. If the Maryland employer can show that its MWHL violation was reasonable and made in good faith, a court may reduce or eliminate a liquidated damage recovery.
Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law
The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (MWPCL) is another important Maryland wage law. It requires an employer to pay employees all promised wages due to an employee. Notably, the definition of “wage” under the MWPCL is broad and can include bonuses, commissions, and unused paid time off. The law also requires that the employer pay the employee at least every two weeks.
Both the MHWL and the MWPCL allow for the recovery of unpaid wages and attorney’s fees and costs. But the MHWL allows a maximum recovery for an employee equal to twice the amount of unpaid wages while the MWPCL allows treble damages, or up to three times the unpaid wage amount. However, the ability to collect this higher damage amount is only possible when the MWPCL violation is not the result of a legitimate and good faith wage dispute between the employer and employee.
Breach of Contract
One of the oldest legal remedies available to workers who haven’t been fully paid by their employers is the breach of contract lawsuit. This blog post won’t discuss this legal remedy, but you can learn more about it by reading our blog post titled, “Suing for Breach of Contract for Unpaid Wages .”
Summing It Up
- Maryland employers who don’t properly pay their workers are subject to legal action through the MWHL and MWPCL.
- Maryland workers may also take legal action through the FLSA or by bringing a breach of contract cause of action.
- These wage laws and remedies usually do not apply to independent contractors.
- An employee may be able to recover up to three times the total unpaid wage amount, plus attorney’s fees and costs. The exact amount will depend on the extent of the violation and which wage law applies.
For More Information
If you believe your Maryland employer owes you unpaid wages, please contact us for a no cost online review of your case.