Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Triple Damages Under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law

Over at the Maryland Employment Law Blog, I posted an article on when triple damages are available under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law. The article includes a brief I wrote on the issue as well as a sample jury instructions.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Must an employer pay accrued compensatory time at my termination?

The answer is most likely, "Yes."

Workers are divided in two classes: (1) non-exempt employees who must be paid overtime; and (2) exempt employees who are entitled to overtime.

I wrote here that a private-sector employer generally cannot grant time off in lieu of of overtime to non-exempt employees. In other words, employers usually cannot give "compensatory time" instead of overtime wages to its hourly workers.

But, what about exempt employees? The law does not prohibit or require that an employer give compensatory time to exempt employees. Employer are free to do as they wish. Some employers reward their exempt employees by awarding compensatory time off if they work more than 40 hours in a week. In such case, the employee accrues "comp time" for work.

What happens to accrued comp time at the employee's termination? In my view, it must be paid. It is no different than accrued vacation. Catapult v. Wolf, discussed many times on this blog, established that accrued vacation is no different than earned wages and must be paid out at termination. All of this flows the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law's definition of wages, which includes "any . . . remuneration promised for service."

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Top Five Ways Employers Violate Maryland's Wage Law

True or False: My private-sector employer can offer me "comp time" in lieu of overtime?

False. It may seem silly but with a very limited exception: if you are entitled to overtime -- you are entitled to overtime. A private-sector employer generally cannot substitute "comp time" (or "compensatory time") in lieu of actual wages.



Sunday, July 29, 2007

Can My Maryland Employer Withhold My Wages?

Maybe. In Maryland, an employee must agree in writing that his or her employer can withhold earned wages. Absent a written agreement, an employer has no right to withhold pay, even if the employee clearly owes the employer money or has failed to return company property, such as a laptop computer, at the conclusion of the employment relationship. If an employer does withhold pay without obtaining advance authorization from the employee, the employer potentially becomes liable to the employee for treble (triple) damages and attorney's fees under Maryland's Wage Payment and Collection law.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Top 5 Ways Restaurants Violate Wage Laws

1. Failing to pay the correct amount in overtime. Tipped employees who receive the special restaurant sub-minimum wage are entitled to overtime at one and one-half times the actual minimum wage.

2. Failing to pay the correct special restaurant sub-minimum wage. In Maryland it is $3.08 per hour.

3. Failing to pay employees any direct wages (and paying the employees only in tips).

4. Keeping a portion of pooled tips for "the house" (i.e., the restaurant).

5. Failing to pay overtime to "assistant managers" who otherwise do not qualify for a white collar exemption.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I work for a non-profit so I am not entitled to overtime: True or False

FALSE. With very limited exceptions most employees of non-profits are entitled to overtime assuming they are not exempt from receiving overtime for some other reason. The limited exceptions listed on the Maryland Department of Labor's website are:
  • Not for profit temporary home care services
  • Not for profit concert or theater promoters

Of course, employees of non-profits may be exempt for some other reason, such as if they are exempt administrative, executive, or professional employees.