Employees have the right to be treated fairly and respectfully by their employers. Workers also have the right to raise their voice when mistreated or discriminated. As an employee, you are entitled to receive your agreed-upon wages for your performance in the workplace. Employers must always make sure you are receiving your payments on time and in full. According to Maryland law, employees are entitled to earn at least $10.10 per hour worked, plus additional benefits if they are full-time employees. If an employee does not receive the pay they are entitled to, they can file a claim against their employer. Baltimore wage and hour dispute attorney Ken Gauvey explains more about the possible claims that can be filed against an employer for unpaid wages in Maryland.
Filing a Claim for Unpaid Wages in Maryland
Under Maryland law, employees who believe their wages have been unlawfully withheld have three different options. Employees can file a claim, file a lawsuit, or request criminal charges.
Filing a Claim
According to the State of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR), employees can file a claim with the DLLR by completing an online wage claim form and sending it to the state’s Employment Standards Service (ESS). Once received, the ESS will conduct an investigation and will try to collect your withheld wages from your employer.
Filing a Lawsuit
You can also file a civil lawsuit against your employer if you suspect your wages were withheld in violation of Maryland’s Wage Payment Law. If the court finds your employer breached the state’s Wage Payment Law, you can be awarded damages up to three times the amount of unpaid wages.
Requesting Criminal Charges
You may be able to request criminal charges against your employer if they deliberately withheld your wages. According to the DLLR, if the court finds your employer did not provide you with a valid reason to withhold your payments, they can face criminal penalties for their actions.
Federal Claims for Withheld Wages
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets forth rules to help employees in the private sector and the federal and state government. This federal law is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Generally, under the FLSA, employees are required to file their claim within two years of the date their employer breached the law. This legal deadline of two years is known as the “statute of limitations.”
However, in the state of Maryland, an employee has up to three years from the date their wages were unpaid to file a state claim against their employer. Talk to an attorney about whether filing in federal court or state court is best in your case.
What Can I Do if My Employer Underpaid Me?
Employers are required to follow and comply with all rules set forth by the FLSA. Investigators stationed across the nation carry out investigations regarding wages and hours of labor among others business or company operations. The primary purpose of their research is determining if any given employer complies with the law. If found guilty of violating any legal provision set forth by FLSA, such as minimum wage and overtime rules, employers will be required to modify their practices.
If an employer is found guilty of willful actions that violate the FLSA, they can face hefty fines. In severe cases of noncompliance with FLSA rules, an employer can face prison time. While FLSA rules are separate from state regulation, employers still need to follow both statues (state and federal) to avoid penalties.
Therefore, an employee whose wages are being withheld or denied without just cause can file an FLSA claim against their employer. Additionally, as of October 1, 2013, employees can file a lien against their employer’s property – real or personal – for wages owed under the “Maryland Lien for Unpaid Wages law.” However, employers can defend themselves against the claim.
Going through this process can be complicated and difficult to navigate on your own. It is strongly advised that you obtain the services of a skilled and experienced Baltimore employee rights attorney who can guide you through the process.
Baltimore, Maryland Employment Attorney Offering Complimentary Consultations
Unless otherwise expressed in their employment contract, most employees are at-will under Maryland law. However, the fact you are an at-will employee doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to collect your wages. No employer has the right to withhold or negate your payments illegally. You may be entitled to recuperate any due wages and overtime payments.
Do not face your employer alone. Let a Baltimore employment litigation lawyer help you recover your unpaid wages. To learn more about your case in a free, confidential consultation, call The Law Practice of Ken C. Gauvey today at 443-692-7685.