Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (MWPCL)

The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (MWPCL) is a state law that sets out how employers must pay wages. When an employer wrongfully withholds of refuses to pay the full amount that is due to an employee, the MWPCL gives the employee certain rights and remedies.

If your employer is refusing to pay you any wages that you feel are owed to you, you should consider getting personal legal guidance from an experienced FLSA lawyer.

A skilled lawyer could advise you about your rights under the MWPCL and other laws and can suggest appropriate actions to enforce your legal rights.

MWPCL Covers Employees, but not Independent Contractors

The Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (MWPCL) covers employees who perform at least 50 percent of their work in Maryland. It does not cover legitimate independent contractors.

Workers in Maryland need to be aware of whether their employer has misclassified them as an independent contractor when they are in fact an employee.

Misclassified employees are often purposefully put in that position so that employers may try to prevent them from using their important rights under the MWPCL as well as many other laws. Maryland law looks to the “economic reality” of the work-relationship to determine a worker’s status.

In general, however, anyone who is not in fact independently engaged in a business or trade should be concerned if an employer seeks to pay them as an independent contractor. Anyone with questions about their status should seek legal advice from a qualified employment lawyer.

Pay Requirements Under MWPCL

MWPCL requires that employers set a regular pay schedule that is at least every two weeks or twice a month. Employers must pay employees in U.S. currency or by check in U.S. dollars. That is, pay cannot be made in goods or some other non-monetary form.

Wages include all regular pay as well as overtime, bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits (for example, paid leave), and any other compensation that is owed as of the end of the current pay period. When an employer fails to make full payment on time, the employee may bring a claim under the MWPCL.

Examples of MWPCL Violations

There are a number of ways that an employer can run afoul of the law’s requirements. Examples include:

  • Failure to pay on time
  • Unpaid wages
  • Unpaid tips, overtime, commissions or bonuses
  • Punitive docking of pay (for example for alleged mistakes or rule violations)
  • Unauthorized deductions in pay
  • Refusal to pay after separation
  • Incorrect rate of pay

How to Enforce MWPCL Rights

Employees who believe that their employer has violated their MWPCL rights can bring a claim for unpaid wages. There are several options for this:

  • Administrative complaint with the Maryland Department Labor, Licensing, and Regulation
  • Civil lawsuit in court

An experienced lawyer can advise about which approach may be most effective in a given situation and how much compensation may be recovered from an employer who has violated the law. An employee who proves their MWPCL case through a civil lawsuit may be able to recover up to three times the amount of wages owed plus reasonable attorney’s fees.

Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Employment Attorney

Hiring an effective and qualified lawyer can be crucial to presenting a successful case to recover unpaid wages and getting other legal relief. In many instances, an employer that has violated the MWPCL may have also violated other employment laws.

An experienced lawyer can take the time to understand your circumstances and suggest actions that you can take to recover lost wages or other compensation. Throughout their representation, your lawyer’s goal will be to help you reach a full and satisfactory resolution of your legal concerns.

Employment issues can be complex and strict time limits often apply, so do not make the mistake of trying to “go it alone.” Contact a lawyer about Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law today to learn more about your options.