The recently enacted Maryland Lien for Unpaid Wages law allows employees who are owed wages by their employer to file a lien against their employer.
The employee simply notifies the employer of their intent to claim a lien and the employer is then required to file a Circuit Court Complaint to avoid default judgment.
Fortunately, under this new law, “wages” does not include commissions. Moreover, an employee who wishes to establish a lien for unpaid wages must satisfy three requirements in notifying the employer:
- the notice must be served on the employer within the general three year statute of limitations governing civil actions;
- the notice must satisfy the service of process requirements under the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure;
- the notice must contain information that provides the employer with adequate notice of the wages claimed and the property against which the lien for unpaid wages is sought.
To avoid default judgment, an employer must dispute the claim by filing a Complaint in the Circuit Court for the County where the property is located. The Complaint must be filed within 30 days after the employee’s notice is served. The Complaint must include some basic information as well as a statement of any defense to the lien.
Once the Complaint is filed, the Circuit Court will determine whether to issue an order establishing a lien for unpaid wages within 45 days after the date on which the Complaint was filed.
The Court’s decision is based on a preponderance of the evidence in which the employee has the burden of proof to establish the lien for unpaid wages.
Either the employer or employee may request an evidentiary hearing.
If the Court issues an order establishing a lien, the employee is entitled to Court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
However, if the court determines that the employee’s claim was frivolous or made in bad faith, the employer may be awarded Court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.