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Recovery of Overtime Wages Subject to Enhanced Damages under Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law

In the case of Peters v. Early Healthcare Giver, Inc. the Court of Appeals of Maryland determined that overtime wages are recoverable both under the Maryland Wage and Hour Law (“MWHL”) and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (“MWPCL”).

An employee who has not been paid proper wages has two avenues of redress under Maryland law, one under the MWHL and one under the MWPCL.  The MWHL provides that employees must be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked and must be paid overtime compensation for all hours worked over forty (40) per week.  The MWPCL states that all employees must be paid regularly and within a specified time after termination of employment.  The MWPCL allows an employee to recover treble damages and attorneys’ fees upon the finding that an employer did not withhold wages as a result of a bona fide dispute, while the MWHL does not provide such statutory damages.  

Federal courts have consistently found that the MWPCL does not apply to causes of action related to the failure to pay overtime or minimum wage, but only applies to the failure to pay wages on time and at the end of employment.   The court in Peters used the 2010 amendments to the MWPCL, whereby the definition of ‘wages’ in the statute was changed to include ‘overtime wages,” to support its holding that overtime wages were recoverable under the MWPCL .  The court’s finding that wages are recoverable under the MWPCL allows employees seeking overtime payments to collect not only the overtime due, but the enhanced treble damages available under the MWPCL.

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