It goes without saying that every employer is obligated to pay their employees for the work they have performed at the wages they have agreed to or are required by law. Sometimes, however, employees are underpaid as a result of a mistake or misunderstanding. In other cases, the employer may be willfully or deliberately underpaying their employees. It might be that there is a bona fide dispute between the employer and the employee over what amount they are owed. Whatever the situation, these cases can be complicated, but the bottom line is that you deserve fair compensation from your employer.
If you believe you haven’t received your full pay, you may be entitled to back pay or retro pay. If you have brought the matter to your employer’s attention to no result, you should contact a Maryland back pay lawyer to discuss your rights.
Maryland Back Pay and Retroactive Pay Defined
Back pay and retro pay are closely related and the terms are often used interchangeably. As a result, there can be a great deal of confusion when discussing these terms.
- You are owed back pay when your employer neglects to pay you money that you earned, such as overtime. In other words, back pay involves missed wages.
- You are owed retro pay when there has been a miscalculation in your wages, such as when your employer failed to pay you a salary increase that you were promised.
In most cases, there is no legal difference between back pay and retro pay, while they may make a difference in the money that you are owed. If you believe that your employer has failed to correctly pay you the wages you have earned, a Maryland back pay lawyer can review your case and determine what you are owed.
Why You May Be Entitled to Back Pay or Retro Pay
You may be entitled to back pay or retro pay anytime your employer fails to pay you the wages you are rightfully owed. Here are some examples of why you may be entitled to back pay or retro pay:
- You worked overtime that was paid at your regular hourly rate instead of time and a half
- Your employer gave you a raise and neglected to adjust your pay rate
- You worked through your lunch break but weren’t paid for it
- Your employer failed to pay a bonus you earned
- Your employer neglected to pay you commissions that you earned
Under Maryland law, you can seek back pay or retro pay for any wages, including bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, overtime wages, or any other compensation that is agreed upon. If you feel that you have been under-compensated, a Maryland back pay lawyer can help you get the wages you are owed.
What to Do if You Are Owed Back Pay or Retro Pay in Maryland
Assuming that you have carefully reviewed your records and determined that you are owed unpaid wages, the first thing you should do is notify your employer of the error, preferably in writing. If your employer disputes that you are owed back pay or retro pay, then you should speak with a Maryland back pay lawyer to discuss your options. Generally speaking, you have three options under Maryland law:
File a Claim with the Maryland Department of Labor.
To expedite your claim, you should send a letter to your employer via certified mail, return receipt requested. The letter should identify the specific amount owed, the days and hours or commissions the money represents, and request payment by a reasonable deadline. If your employer does not pay the amount requested by the deadline, you should include a copy of your letter with your complaint form. Upon receipt, the Department will conduct an independent investigation and attempt to collect the back pay on your behalf. If your employer refuses to cooperate, the Department may file a lawsuit in court on your behalf.
File a Lawsuit.
You always have the option of filing a lawsuit on your own. You may be awarded damages of up to three times the amount you are owed plus your attorney’s fees if the court finds that there was no bona fide dispute and that your employer deliberately withheld wages in violation of Maryland law. However, it can be pretty difficult for non-lawyers to navigate the court system, and even a minor mistake can jeopardize your claim. As a result, we recommend that you speak with an experienced Maryland back pay attorney if you are interested in filing a lawsuit against your employer.
File Criminal Charges.
In certain situations, it may make sense to pursue criminal charges against your employer, such as when they deliberately failed to pay wages without a valid reason or never intended to pay you in the first place. However, this remedy could severely damage your relationship with your employer if the charges are later dismissed. Therefore, you should speak with an attorney before pursuing this option.
We should also note that you may have remedies under federal law as governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the FLSA, there is a two-year statute of limitations for unpaid wage claims. If the violation was willful, there may be a three-year statute of limitations that applies. For federal employees in Maryland, you may have to pursue your claim under the FLSA. An experienced Maryland back pay lawyer can discuss your options with you and help you make the right choice for pursuing your claim.
Has Your Employer Underpaid Your Wages? Talk to a Maryland Back Pay Lawyer Today
It is important to remember that, as an employee, you have a right to be fairly compensated under both federal and Maryland state law. If your employer refuses to pay the wages you are owed, Maryland back pay lawyer J.W. Stafford can help. Aggressive and experienced, he leverages his deep knowledge of the law to get his clients results quickly and cost-effectively. To discuss your case and how we can help, schedule a consultation today by calling 410-514-6099 or contacting us online.