Whether you are an employee or employer, no one likes the idea of layoffs. But regardless of which side you may fall on, it is important to remember that Maryland law specifically outlines how — and when — a terminated employee must be paid.
In fact, Maryland law expressly states that employers are required to pay terminated employees for all the work they completed before they were terminated. This payment must be made on, or before, the day the employees would have otherwise been paid had they not been terminated.
If the employer fails to make these required payments by the proper due date, the terminated employees should seek qualified representation such as Thatcher Law Firm to obtain their earned wages. In addition, if there is no “bona fide dispute” regarding the wages owed, the employee may be entitled to the following:
- The employer may be ordered to pay a monetary award of up to three times the wages owed (“treble damages”)
- The employer may be required to pay the employee’s “reasonable” attorney fees and other costs
Given what is at stake, it is easy to see how the determination of whether a “bona fide dispute” actually exists is quite significant. If there isn’t one, the employer may be on the hook for triple the wages, plus the employee’s attorney fees.
So, what qualifies as a bona fide dispute?
Generally speaking, Maryland courts have determined that a “bona fide dispute” exists if the employer has a “good faith basis” for not paying the wages, such as when there is a legitimate dispute over the claim’s validity or the actual amount owed. While addressing this issue can be a complicated process, it essentially boils down to this: Does the employer have a legitimate reason for withholding the wages? If not, we recommend that you call us for assistance in obtaining the monies that you earned, as well as possible treble damages.
Ultimately, if the court determines that a “bona fide dispute” exists, the employee can only seek to recover the amount of unpaid wages, but no additional damages.
If you run a business and have any questions about the payment of your employees, please call Thatcher Law Firm for assistance. Thatcher Law Firm represents both employees and employers in wage and hour disputes.
As you can imagine, legal disputes involving the matters discussed above can get quite complicated very fast, which is why it is always best to seek experienced guidance should you find yourself on either side of this particular issue.