Beginning October 1, 2013, Maryland employees can initiate a lien by providing "written notice" to their employers of unpaid wages. If employers want to contest the lien, they must file a claim in Court providing a sworn statement setting forth all defenses. The Court then only as 45 days to decide if the lien is appropriate. Forty-five days is fast; a typical court case take months, if not years. I am curious how the Courts will handle this new expedited procedure.
If the Court issues the lien, it can award attorney's fees to the employee. It can award attorney's fees to the employer if the wage lien is brought in bad faith.
The Act's definition of "employer" is broad and includes individuals who work in the employer's interest. Under recent precedent, owners and some supervisors can be individually liable for unpaid wages. Wages does not include owed commissions.
A lien is like a judgment that attaches to property. If the employer wants to sell his or her solely-owned real estate, if a wage lien is attached, the buyer will usually require the employer to satisfy the lien. The lien also may give the lien holder priority if the employer declares bankruptcy.
The Maryland Department of Labor is tasked with issuing implementing regulations. I will be keeping my eye out for them as they could have an important affect on this new powerful wage collecting tool.