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Shaping Maryland’s Labor & Employment Laws

This week in Cunningham v. Feinberg, No. 27 SEPT.TERM 2014, 2015 WL 328991 (Md. Jan. 27, 2015), the Maryland’s Court of Appeals ruled that the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (MWPCL) is a strong public policy for protecting wage earners’ rights. The Court of Appeals relied heavily on the 2011 House Bill 298 that was passed into law, clarifying the MWPCL with an anti-waiver provision that provides that any “agreement to work for less than the wage required under this subtitle is void.” Its inclusion of triple damages and attorneys’ fees demonstrates the serious purpose of the law.

JGL’s employment lawyer, Brian Markovitz, played an influential role in advocating for House Bill 298 and obtaining its passage into law in 2011. Commenting on HB 298 at the time, Markovitz explained, “The intent here is to expressly preclude unscrupulous employers from using employment contracts to circumvent the remedies available in the MWPCL subtitle by applying the laws of other states that provide less protection for their workers and/or by having workers waive these rights.”

HB 298 Made[RETC1]  Important Clarification of Maryland Law

HB 298 provided a simple clarification, yet an important one: It clarified that the Wage Payment and Collection Law reflects a strong public policy of the state that was recognized by the high court. The complement to Maryland’s Wage and Hour Law, the Wage Payment and Collection Law, ensures that employees in the state of Maryland are fully paid all wages required (either as minimum wage, overtime wage or by contract) in a regular and timely fashion. Together, these two statutes provide bedrock workplace protections for all employees, ensuring that they are fully paid the required basic minimum wage and overtime wages when due. Further, where an employer wrongfully withholds a wage not as a result of a bona fide dispute, an employee may recover damages of up to three times the wage that was required or due to be paid – an important incentive to ensuring compliance. However, while the Wage and Hour Law contains language prohibiting agreements to violate its provisions, its counterpart, the Wage Payment and Collection Law, did not, prior to 2011. HB 298 simply corrected this oversight and provides the identical language to the complementary wage statute.

For more information on Maryland’s Labor & Employment laws, contact Brian Markovitz at


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