Maryland Enacts Wage Lien Law for Unpaid Wages

Maryland Enacts Wage Lien Law for Unpaid Wages

The General Assembly passed a law this session to help victims of fly-by-night or just plain crooked employers.  The law (HB 1130/SB758) establishes a procedure for employees to place a wage lien on property of their employer for unpaid wages.  Existing law permits an employee to file suit for unpaid wages and, if there is no bona fide dispute that the wages are owed, the court may award treble damages and attorneys’ fees to the employee.  This system does not work efficiently for employers which simply withhold an employee’s last paycheck, or for employers who refuse to pay wages and then fold up shop, opening up under another name.  In those cases, the stakes are too small to get legal representation, or the time necessary to get a judgment allows the dissipation of assets available to enforce it.

The new law allows an employee to provide written notice of a lien for unpaid wages, and the property, real or personal, sought to be encumbered.  If the employer does not dispute the notice by filing in court in 30 days, or if the court orders the establishment of the lien, the employee can file the lien in a manner similar to a financing statement.  The lien can then be enforced using judgment enforcement procedures.

This law is designed to make small wage claims easier to enforce; ideally, it will dissuade employers from refusing to turn over an employee’s last paycheck.  It does not apply to commission claims.  This exception must be the result of some political compromise, perhaps based on the idea that commissions are more hotly contested than wages for hours worked.

4 Responses

  1. I am working for an employer that I also know on a personal level. I let them know that I was not paid for the number of hours I worked. I have now been waiting for my back pay for two weeks. I was told by my employer that I can have my money in two days if I paid the payroll company $192.00. I refused. After I submitted all the documents for the amount I'm owed I recently got paid for this period and my back pay was not on this check either. And I was informed again that I could have my money if I pay the payroll company fee, or wait two more weeks. What should I do. I'm at my wits end. I'm ready to quit but I don't want to get cheated out of anymore money. Do I have a case?
    • Mary Keating
      You certainly should not have to pay for the privilege of getting paid. I hope you are keeping track every week of your time. You can file a wage lien with the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Good luck on this.
      • Hello, I have been working for sterling optical for the past year, I have recently been floating to a location in gaithersburg md. I have been there for two weeks. I have not received my paycheck and every time I try to contact the manager he is not available or does not answer his phone. I have left numerous messages for him and still no response. I was refered by the owner of the columbia locations owner, in which she had inside information that the gaithersburg owner has not paid any of his previous employees. Which she did not disclose to me before i took the position. Do I have a case?
        • You should consider contacting the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation or visit its website and trying to get a wage lien going. Good luck. Mary

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