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Employment Law Alert – Maryland Enacts Lien for Unpaid Wages Law

August 21, 2013

MARYLAND ENACTS LIEN FOR UNPAID WAGES LAW

  Maryland’s Governor recently signed into law a bill which establishes a procedure by which employees may place a lien on an employer’s property to recover unpaid wages without even filing a lawsuit.  According to the new law, which takes effect on October 1st, an employee who has a claim for unpaid wages may serve the employer with written notice of his/her claim for unpaid wages.  An employer who receives such a notice may dispute the lien for unpaid wages by filing a complaint in the circuit court where the employer’s property is located within 30 days of receiving the notice.  The circuit court then has 45 days to determine whether to establish the lien.  However, the lien is automatically placed on the employer’s property if the employer does not affirmatively file a complaint to dispute the claim.  Therefore, due to the short deadlines and the automatic nature of the remedy, an employer who receives written notice of a claim under this law should contact legal counsel immediately.

SUPERVISOR BEWARE: INDIVIDUAL LIABILITY FOR WAGE AND HOUR LAW VIOLATIONS

The Second Circuit (NY, CT, VT) recently affirmed a district court ruling that the owner of a grocery chain was individually liable for a $3.5 million settlement in an unpaid wages claim.  The Court found that the business owner qualified as an employer due to his active participation in operational management, his financial control over the company, and his ultimate responsibility for wages and supervision.  In a similar case, the First Circuit (MA, ME, NH, RI, PR) recently held that the former president and CEO of Boston Medical Center Corp. might be personally liable for Plaintiffs’ FLSA claims because she “was in a position to exert substantial authority over corporate policy relating to employee wages.”  However, to the relief of human resources professionals throughout the country, the First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of individual claims against the company’s Human Resources Director, finding that the HR Director was merely a senior employee and did not adequately control the company’s finances.

These court opinions underscore the importance of compliance with labor and employment laws, which typically include harsh penalties for violations.  To best avoid this potential risk to the company and to owners individually, companies must continually review and monitor their wage and hour programs to ensure compliance with relevant federal and state labor and employment laws.

OBESITY: A DISEASE UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT?

In June the American Medical Association (“AMA”) classified obesity as a disease.  According to the AMA, a person suffers from the disease of obesity if they have a body mass index of 30 or higher.  This classification may substantially impact employers.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, virtually any diagnosed medical condition is a “disability.”  Thus, the AMA classification is likely to incite a new wave of lawsuits against employers for failing to accommodate individuals suffering from obesity.  Indeed, the first such lawsuit was filed in July against an employer in Missouri.  Best practice is for employers to engage in the interactive process with any individual requesting accommodations due to obesity.

The contents of this Alert are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact a member of the Shulman Rogers Employment and Labor Law Group or the Shulman Rogers attorney with whom you regularly work.

Contact

Gregory D. Grant
301-230-6578

703-684-5200

Meredith “Merry” Campbell
301-255-0550