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Unpaid Wages

Justice starts today with a freeconfidential lawyer consultation.

Maryland workers deserve to be paid fairly for their work. And for more than 50 years, that principle has been established under Maryland law, in the form of the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection LawMd. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-501 et seq. (sometimes abbreviated as "MWCPL").

At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we file lawsuits for unpaid wages under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law in every Maryland circuit court—demanding that Maryland workers be paid the wages they're owed.

 

If you're a Maryland worker, and owed unpaid wages, contact a Maryland wage lawyer today for a free, confidential lawyer consultation. 

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Justice for unpaid wages starts today with a free, confidential lawyer consultation.

Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law

 

The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection LawMd. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-501 et seq. has been codified law in the state of Maryland for more than 50 years; however, it wasn't until 1993 that the Maryland General Assembly amended the law to allow individual workers to sue for their unpaid wages. Today, the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law is among the most important Maryland laws protecting Maryland workers.

The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law provides that employers must pay each employee all wages he or she is due for work performed at least once every two weeks or twice per month and, in the case of termination, on or before the day on which the employee would have been paid the wages if the employment had not been terminated.

graphic note on wage payment frequency under the Maryland wage law

The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law mandates that Maryland employers pay workers at least once every two weeks or twice per month.

graphic note on when Maryland wage law requires pay to be made after firing or termination

Under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, a terminated worker must be paid their earned wages on or before the day they would normally have been paid.

The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law also strictly limits what deductions an employer can take from your wages.

Under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, an employer may not make a deduction from the wage of any employee unless the deduction was (1) ordered by a court, (2) expressly authorized in writing by the employee, (3) allowed by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry because the employee received full consideration for the deduction, or (4) is made in accordance with a law, rule, or regulation issued by a governmental unit. 

graphic note reasons a Marylan employer can withhold or deduct wages from a paycheck

Under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, there are only four reasons an employer can make a deduction from your wages:

  1. pursuant to a court order;

  2. with the written consent of the employee;

  3. as allowed by the Maryland Commissioner of Labor and Industry; or

  4. pursuant to a law, rule, or regulation of a governmental unit.

It is important to note that the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law only applies to "employees," a term that the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law does not actually define. However, Maryland courts generally use a four-part test to determine whether an individual is an employee, the most important of which is "whether the employer actually exercised or had the right to exercise control over the performance of the individual's work." In other words—did the employer tell you when and how to do your work? If so, you may be an "employee" under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, and can sue the employer for your unpaid wages.

graphic note on court case defining an employee under the Maryland wage law

In Baltimore Harbor Charters, Ltd. v. Ayd, 365 Md. 366 (Md. 2001), the court outlined several factors to determine whether a worker is an "employee" under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, including:

  1. whether the employer actually exercised or had the right to exercise control over the performance of the individual's work;

  2. whether the individual's service is outside all the usual course of business of the enterprise for which such service is performed;

  3. whether the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business;

  4. whether it is the employer or the employee who supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and location for the work to be performed;

  5. whether the individual receives wages directly from the employer or from a third party for work performed on the employer's behalf; and,

  6. whether the individual held an ownership interest in the business such that the individual had the ability and discretion to affect the general policies and procedures of the business.

The next important question under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law is what is considered a "wage?" The types of remuneration considered a wage under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law are very broad, and include almost anything promised as compensation for work performed. This includes commissions and other fringe benefits that you might not traditionally think of as "wages."

graphic note on wage payment frequency under the Maryland wage law

The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law's definition of a "wage" is very broad, and includes fringe benefits such as commissions.

When an employer violates the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, it exposes itself to significant financial liability.

Under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, an employee suing for unpaid “wages” may be awarded “an amount not exceeding three times the wage, and reasonable counsel fees and other costs” if there is a finding that the employer withheld the wage in violation of the Act and “not as a result of a bona fide dispute.” A court's finding that there was no bona fide dispute justifying the withholding of the “wage” is required before an employee may recover treble (i.e., three times) damages, as well as their attorneys' fees.

graphic note on damages and awards under the Maryland wage payment law

Under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law's definition, an employee whose wages were unlawfully withheld may be awarded up to three times the amount of their unpaid wages. For example, an employee whose employer withheld $50,000 could potentially be awarded $150,000 in damages.

graphic note on damages and awards under the Maryland wage payment law

Under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law's definition, an employee whose unpaid wages claim is success may be awarded their attorneys' fees (i.e., the employer has to pay for the employee's lawyer).

At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we help Maryland employees receive up to three times the amount of the wages they are owed under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation with a Maryland wage lawyer.

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Justice for unpaid wages starts today with a free, confidential lawyer consultation.

Suing for Unpaid Wages

 

The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law contains a "private right of action," which means you can sue a Maryland employer directly for unpaid wages in Maryland state court.

A Maryland employee may bring an action for unpaid wages only after two weeks have elapsed from the date they should have been paid.

graphic note on damages and awards under the Maryland wage payment law

Under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law's definition, an employee may file a lawsuit for unpaid wages two weeks after their wage was supposed to be paid (i.e., payday).

The statute of limitations for the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law is three years, and begins to run after each instance of wage withholding. For example, if an employee's paycheck was "light" twice - once four years ago, and again two years ago - the employee could only file a lawsuit in court for unpaid wages on the second light paycheck.

graphic note on the Maryland wage law's statute of limitations

The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law's has a three-year statute of limitations.  

As of 2013, Maryland employees whose wages have been unlawfully withheld have another tool under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law—the ability to establish a lien on their employer's real and personal and property for unpaid wages.

 

To do this, the employee (or their Maryland wage lawyer) must provide written notice to the employer, but this procedure sometimes results in a faster resolution of unpaid wages claims.

graphic note on procedure to obtain a lien under the Maryland wage law

As of 2013, an aggrieved employee may establish a lien on an employer's real and personal property under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law.  

If your current or former Maryland employer has unlawfully withheld your wages, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation with a Maryland wage lawyer.

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When you're ready to start fighting for your right to be

paid for your workyou won't be fighting alone.

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Blog Posts

For more on unpaid wages and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (MWPLC), check out our team's most recent blog post on this topic:

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Justice for unpaid wages starts today with a free, confidential lawyer consultation.

Helpful Links

For additional resources on unpaid wages and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (MWPLC), check out the following helpful links:

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When you're ready to start fighting for your right to be

paid fairlyyou won't be fighting alone.