I work for a company (real estate) who has been unable to meet payroll. I am the only full time employee (there is a part-time bookkeeper/payroll specialist). I am salaried and paid every two weeks however because business is continually getting worse the company has been unable to pay me but continually say as soon as money comes in you're the first one to be paid. Settlements keep occurring, and expenses are getting paid with the exception of my payroll. I never signed any agreement allowing them to withhold my paychecks. This happened last year where they did eventually pay me what I was owed except at then I was allowed to physically see that they paychecks were actually written now I'm not allowed anything. Before the business turned south I was the office manager of 13 employees. All have since been laid off with the exception of myself and the part-time bookkeeper/payroll specialist. On a side note, my employer is also my father who tries to use my lack of a paycheck to tell me "it's for the good of your mother and I so we don't loose our house", morally this is why I have continued to stay but I'm at my breaking point. Please help. Is any of this legal in Maryland?
State/Country relating to question: Maryland
I've asked for my paychecks.
Hello. Thanks for contacting us.This must be a particularly painful time, as you indicate this involves family -- not just any old employer.You are best placed on how to handle family issues that arise here. But as a legal matter, the laws of Maryland are very clear.An employer cannot withold pay. There are penalties for doing so -- and there is a state government office that can take complaints, investigate and order both unpaid wages and penalties to the employment who has not received pay.The state's Employment Standards Service (ESS) is the point of contact. You may phone (410)(NNN) NNN-NNNN or contact by email email@example.com.The ESS website lists the steps to take to begin the process:http://www.dllr.state.md.us/labor/wagepay/wpremedies.shtmlAfter investigating, ESS will try to pry the money loose for you -- and can even file a lawsuit on your behalf. Maryland law allows courts to award not only unpaid wages, but up to three times the unpaid wages, as a penalty (paid to the worker). It is also possible to sue directly. Some lawyers may even take the case without upfront fees (collecting instead a percentage of any settlement or judgment). The triple the pay provision means there may be enough money to entice a lawyer to agree to this type of arrangement (instead of straight fees, regardless of outcome). This is called "on contingency" -- and its a good idea to mention it up front so you can find a lawyer who might be willing.I wish you all the best in resolving this matter.
Practicing Law Since 2000
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