Frequently Asked Questions > Wage Payment and Collection
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MARYLAND WAGE PAYMENT AND COLLECTION LAW
  1. CAN I RECOVER COMMISSIONS ON DEALS THAT CLOSED AFTER MY EMPLOYMENT TERMINATED?

  2. MY EMPLOYER TERMINATED ME AND FAILED TO PAY ME MY ACCRUED VACATION. MAY I SUE TO RECOVER IT UNDER THE ACT?

  3. MY EMPLOYER TERMINATED ME AND FAILED TO PAY ME MY ACCRUED SICK PAY. CAN I SUE TO RECOVER IT UNDER THE ACT?

  4. MY EMPLOYER TERMINATED ME AND FAILED TO PAY ME MY LAST PAY CHECK. CAN I SUE TO RECOVER IT UNDER THE ACT?

  5. CAN I RECOVER BONUSES MY EMPLOYER PROMISED?

  6. CAN I RECOVER THE SEVERANCE PAY MY EMPLOYER PROMISED TO PAY ME?

  7. MY EMPLOYER CLASSIFIED ME AS AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AND HAS FAILED TO PAY ME FOR WORK I PERFORMED, DO I HAVE A CLAIM?

  8. MY EMPLOYER PROMISED ME A RAISE AND HAS FAILED TO PAY IT. CAN I SUE FOR BACK PAY UNDER THE ACT?

  9. IF I HAVE A GOOD CASE FOR UNPAID WAGES, DO I AUTOMATICALLY GET TREBLE DAMAGES?

  10. I LIVE IN A STATE OTHER THAN MARYLAND, DOES THE MARYLAND WAGE PAYMENT AND COLLECTION LAW APPLY ME?


Q. CAN I RECOVER COMMISSIONS ON DEALS THAT CLOSED AFTER MY EMPLOYMENT TERMINATED?

The answer may well be: "yes." Maryland courts have issued a series of favorable decisions protecting the right of a salesperson to commissions earned before his or her employment terminates. If you performed all or substantially all of the work necessary to earn the commission before your termination, you may have a claim under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law.



Q. MY EMPLOYER TERMINATED ME AND FAILED TO PAY ME MY ACCRUED VACATION. MAY I SUE TO RECOVER IT UNDER THE ACT?

The answer may well be: "yes." Promised fringe benefits like vacation pay fall within the Wage Payment and Collection Law's definition of wages. When an individual's employment terminates, the law requires "Each employer [to] pay an employee . . . all wages due for work that the employee performed before the termination of employment." http://mlis.state.md.us/cgi-win/web_statutes.exe?gle&3-505



Q. MY EMPLOYER TERMINATED ME AND FAILED TO PAY ME MY ACCRUED SICK PAY. CAN I SUE TO RECOVER IT UNDER THE ACT?

The answer usually is no, unless an employer makes a specific promise to pay accrued sick leave.



Q. MY EMPLOYER TERMINATED ME AND FAILED TO PAY ME MY LAST PAY CHECK. CAN I SUE TO RECOVER IT UNDER THE ACT?

Yes. The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law states:

Each employer shall pay an employee or the authorized representative of an employee all wages due for work that the employee performed before the termination of employment, on or before the day on which the employee would have been paid the wages if the employment had not been terminated. http://mlis.state.md.us/cgi-win/web_statutes.exe?gle&3-505

The Statute allows for deductions if the deduction is:
  1. ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction;
  2. authorized expressly in writing by the employee;
  3. allowed by the Commissioner because the employee has received full consideration for the deduction; or
  4. otherwise made in accordance with any law or any rule or regulation issued by a governmental unit. http://mlis.state.md.us/cgi-win/web_statutes.exe?gle&3-503


Q. CAN I RECOVER BONUSES MY EMPLOYER PROMISED?

An employee can recover earned bonuses. Hence, if an employer promises to pay a bonus for meeting a production goal and the employee meets the goal, the employee usually can collect the bonus under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law. The Law does not allow an employee to recover a purely discretionary bonus, i.e., a gift.



Q. CAN I RECOVER THE SEVERANCE PAY MY EMPLOYER PROMISED TO PAY ME?

It depends. If an employer promises severance pay at the outset of employment to induce an individual to take a job, the severance pay is likely to qualify as wages under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law. However, if severance pay is promised in exchange for something other than the employee's service, i.e., to induce the employee to sign a non competition agreement or a release of claims, the severance pay is not likely to qualify as wages under the Wage Payment and Collection Law.



Q. MY EMPLOYER CLASSIFIED ME AS AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AND HAS FAILED TO PAY ME FOR WORK I PERFORMED, DO I HAVE A CLAIM?

It depends. The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law only applies to employees. How an employer labels its employees is not determinative. Maryland uses the common law right of control test to determine whether an individual is an employee. Generally, the employer-employee relationship exists when the person for whom services are performed has the right to control and direct the individual who performs the services, not only as to the result to be accomplished by the work, but also as to the details and means by which that result is accomplished. That is, an employee, and not an independent contractor, is subject to the will and control of the employer not just as to "what" shall be done, but "how" it shall be done.



Q. MY EMPLOYER PROMISED ME A RAISE AND HAS FAILED TO PAY IT. CAN I SUE FOR BACK PAY UNDER THE ACT?

Most likely. The Wage Payment and Collection Law allows employee's to recover promised wages. If your employer promised you and raise and failed to pay it, you likely have a claim under the law.



Q. IF I HAVE A GOOD CASE FOR UNPAID WAGES, DO I AUTOMATICALLY GET TREBLE DAMAGES?

No, treble damages are not automatic. Under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, the judge or jury decides whether to award treble damages. http://mlis.state.md.us/cgi-win/web_statutes.exe?gle&3-507.1



Q. I LIVE IN A STATE OTHER THAN MARYLAND, DOES THE MARYLAND WAGE PAYMENT AND COLLECTION LAW APPLY ME?

It depends. In most situations, the law that applies to you is the law of the state where you perform work. Hence, if you perform all or most of your work in Maryland, its laws usually apply. Agreements that provide that another State's laws apply are usually enforceable.



For more information about the Wage Payment and Collection Law in Maryland, contact James Rubin at
jrubin@rubinemploymentlaw.com
The Rubin Employment Law Firm, PC - 11 North Washington Street, Suite 520 - Rockville, Maryland 20850 - (301) 760-7914 jrubin@rubinemploymentlaw.com
These materials have been prepared by The Rubin Employment Law Firm, P.C. for information purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between the sender and receiver. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.
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