At first blush, the recent decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals might not appear to be especially significant. After all, the court held that overtime pay is included in the statutory definition of "wages."
However, that means overtime wages are covered by both the Maryland Wage and Hour Law and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law. For employees in our state, this is significant because it means that under the Wage Payment and Collection Law, awards can be for triple damages.
There's little doubt that for the layperson, the nuances of employment disputes, wage claims and employment law can be difficult to decipher. But an experienced employment law attorney understands that this decision could have broad impact on both employers and workers. The decision might well be used in coming days to help protect employees who have been wrongfully denied overtime wages.
It might also have another impact: making employers more inclined to pay deserved overtime wages rather than risk having an employee seek out an attorney who can help them recover triple damages, plus the attorney's fees.
As virtually everyone knows, eligible Maryland workers are to receive overtime wages for hours worked above and beyond 40 hours in a workweek. If an employer decides for improper reasons to withhold that pay, the employee might well consider having a conversation with an attorney who understands not only the applicable law, but also how to conduct negotiations with employers.
Those negotiations can often result in favorable agreements, enabling the worker to get fair compensation in a timely manner. In other cases, an employer will decline to negotiate a reasonable settlement, making litigation necessary.
Anyone denied full pay and benefits in an employment dispute can discuss the circumstances of the incident with an employment law attorney.
Source: HR.BLR.com, "Maryland court: Overtime counts as 'wages' under state law," Kevin C. McCormick, Oct. 7, 2014