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HomeEmploymentDMV Survey Sequence: Wage Theft Version

DMV Survey Sequence: Wage Theft Version

*On this collection, the writer will discover the variations in particular areas of the regulation between D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and hopefully reply the age-old query: which state is greatest for workers? Please do not forget that this weblog submit, like all of our posts, provides basic info and is NOT authorized recommendation.

Upon studying this title, your first query most likely is not “what’s wage theft?” and that’s as a result of it sounds self-explanatory. (The fundamental reply is: your employer owes you cash that you simply’ve earned for work carried out after which refuses to pay you.) But it surely’s not so easy while you get into the weeds of what precisely counts as a “wage”? Does it embody paid trip time? Does it embody commissions? Or severance pay? The reply to all of those questions is (a lawyer’s favourite reply): it relies upon. It depends upon the jurisdiction (or state) and it depends upon what’s in your employment contract, worker handbook or different documentation that outlines what you’re entitled to as an worker of Firm X. What counts as a wage can be knowledgeable by what your employer owes you in fee. For instance, some courts ask: is that this fee necessary underneath your contract when you fulfill your duties or is it a “discretionary fee”? In different phrases, in case you are a commissioned worker, is your fee robotically paid out upon your making a sale in your territory or does your employer have discretion to extend or lower that fee or deny it altogether? In case your employer reserves the precise to disclaim you that fee, then it might not be thought-about a wage.

With that introduction, lets discover the relevant wage theft legal guidelines in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

The District

The District of Columbia Wage Fee and Assortment Regulation (“WPCL”), may be discovered at D.C. Code §§ 32-1301 et seq. The statute’s definition of “wages” contains “all financial compensation” and explicitly covers bonuses, commissions, money “fringe advantages”, time beyond regulation premiums, and any “different remuneration promised or owed” pursuant to an employment contract or relevant District or federal regulation.  That broad definition is borne out in among the District’s case regulation, the place judges have discovered that along with an worker’s common wage or hourly wage, transferring stipends and different relocation bills may be wages,[1] team-based gainsharing bonuses are wages,[2] and generally severance funds is likely to be wages.[3] That mentioned, there are circumstances the place bonuses or commissions are discovered to be “discretionary” and they also might not be wages underneath the regulation.[4]  The stand-out provision of DC’s regulation, is that if the worker prevails and has requested treble damages (or thrice the quantity owed) the courtroom should award that quantity.[5] Lawyer’s payment awards can be found.


The Maryland Wage Fee and Assortment Regulation (MWPCL) may be discovered at MD Code, Labor and Employment, § 3-501 et seq. and comprises a equally broad definition of wages, like DC’s statute, together with bonuses, commissions, fringe advantages, time beyond regulation wages, or “some other remuneration promised for service.” The Maryland case regulation seems to be much like that of D.C. in some respects, with judges discovering that, in the precise circumstances, severance funds may be wages,[6] journey bills may be wages,[7] and bonuses or incentive funds may be wages.[8] As well as, like in D.C., for understanding violations of the Act the place there is no such thing as a “bona fide dispute” over whether or not the wages are owed, the worker could possibly accumulate as much as thrice the quantity of wages owed in damages.[9] Lawyer’s payment awards can be found underneath the statute as effectively.[10]


After which there’s Virginia… the state ostensibly for “lovers” that, maybe appropriately, breaks our little employment regulation hearts each time with its frequent departure from among the stronger worker protections out there in Maryland and the District (to be mentioned in future posts). Although Virginia has had a wage theft statute for a while—the Virginia Wage Fee Act at VA Code § 1-214 et seq.—up till April of 2020, it didn’t have any significant treatment for particular person victims of wage theft.[11] Nonetheless, (drumroll) in April of 2020, Gov. Northam signed into regulation SB 838/HB123 offering for the primary time, a person reason for motion to get better unpaid wages. VA Code § 40.1-29. So now that this superb provision exists, how does it stack as much as the statutes in Maryland and D.C.? Properly, Virginia’s statutory definition of wages is nowhere close to as explicitly broad and inclusive as that of Maryland or D.C. That mentioned, unpaid commissions and performance-based bonuses may be recovered underneath the Act. Additional, the Act supplies for automated double damages and treble damages for understanding violations. Due to the current passage of the Act, there’s not a lot in the best way of case regulation to discover, however at TSLF, we’ll be looking for and litigating these instances and can replace this submit as soon as these verdicts are in.

So which State (or District) is one of the best for workers? On the wage theft entrance, we’ve to say that typically talking, D.C. takes the cake with its necessary treble damages award if requested and its broadly outlined classes of remuneration lined by the statute. Maryland is a detailed second, and Virginia… effectively… you get the concept.


Writer: Nicole Portnov, Esq.*

*Barred in MD and D.C., practising underneath the supervision of VA and NY-licensed attorneys.

If in case you have questions on a selected concern associated to wages or employment regulation, the attorneys at TSLF may help.

[1] Sivaraman v. Guizzetti & Assocs., Ltd., 228 A.3d 1066, 1073 (D.C. 2020); Peck v. SELEX Sys. Integration, Inc., 270 F. Supp. 3d 107, 116 (D.D.C. 2017), aff’d, 895 F.3d 813 (D.C. Cir. 2018).

[2] Molock v. Entire Meals Mkt., Inc., 297 F. Supp. 3d 114, 134 (D.D.C. 2018), aff’d on different grounds sub nom. Molock v. Entire Meals Mkt. Grp., Inc., 952 F.3d 293 (D.C. Cir. 2020).

[3] Strobos v. RxBio, Inc., 251 F. Supp. 3d 221, 239 (D.D.C. 2017).

[4] See e.g., Dorsey v. Jacobson Holman, PLLC, 756 F.Supp.second 30 (D.D.C. 2010); Skripchenko v. VIRxSYS Corp., No. 13-0004, 2014 WL 4826788 (D. Md. Sept. 26, 2014); Rothberg v. Xerox Corp., No. 12-617, 2016 WL 10953882, at *15–19 (D.D.C. Feb. 3, 2016).

[5] Sivaraman v. Guizzetti & Assocs., Ltd., 228 A.3d 1066, 1072 (D.C. 2020) (discovering that treble damages are necessary, not discretionary, if requested.”)

[6] See e.g., Mazer v. Safeway, Inc., 398 F. Supp. second 412, 424 (D. Md. 2005)

[7] Roley v. Nat’l Professional. Exch., Inc., 474 F. Supp. 3d 708, 720 (D. Md. 2020), aff’d, 860 F. App’x 264 (4th Cir. 2021).

[8] Medex v. McCabe, 372 Md. 28, 36, 811 A.second 297, 302 (2002); however see Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. v. Fitzpatrick, 366 Md. 295, 305, 783 A.second 667, 672 (2001).

[9] Peters v. Early Healthcare Giver, Inc., 439 Md. 646, 664, 97 A.3d 621, 631 (2014).

[10] Pinnacle Grp., LLC v. Kelly, 235 Md. App. 436, 178 A.3d 581 (2018)

[11] Previous to the 2020 amendments, particular person litigants would have needed to depend on a standard regulation principle referred to as quantum meruit to get better unpaid wages from an employer. Mar v. Malveaux, 732 S.E.second 733, 738–39 (2012).



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