Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dirty Labor Laundry On-Line

Want to know if your employer is a serial labor law violator? Check The U.S. Department of Labor - Enforcement Data . There, you can search by to see if your employer has previously violated USDOL-enforced labor laws (like the Family and Medical Leave Act and the federal minimum wage and overtime law).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How to Apply for Maryland Unemployment Insurance

Many, many clients asks me about the nuts and bolts of filing an unemployment claim. This video published by the State of Maryland does a good job explaining the process.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Winning Attorney's Fees in Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law Cases

On June 8, 2010, I won a $30,769.08 wage payment verdict on behalf of my client (which was 100% of the amount owed).  The jury was asked three essential questions:

  1. Did the employer owe my client money and if so, how much?  (The answers were, "yes" and "$30,769.08").
  2. Did the employer withhold the money in bad faith?  (The answer was, "yes").
  3. Do you award the plaintiff additional damages up to three times the amount owed?  (The answer was "no").
Translation:  my client won what he was owed but was not awarded additional damages.

Because the jury found the employer withheld the money in bad faith I was permitted to seek my client's attorney's fees.   Had the jury answered "no" to the second question above, we would not have been permitted to seek my client's attorney's fees under a 2009 Maryland Court of Appeals case

In the end, the Court awarded my client an additional $36,212.35, 100% of the fees he incurred in obtaining the verdict.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Maryland Whistleblower Success Story

  The firm recently won a Section 1983 jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. The case was unusual in that the firm represented a volunteer firefighter seeking to be reinstated in a Volunteer Fire Department. The client exposed financial mismanagement and safety issues in the firehouse to a citizen who passed the information on to the Montgomery County Council. Up until the day of trial he would have accepted reinstatement as settlement with little or no money. (We unsuccessfully moved to enforce what we believed had been such a settlement shortly before trial). We proved at trial that the Department and Fire Chief terminated him for the disclosures. Although the jury awarded a modest amount in compensatory damages, it affirmatively found that the Department and Fire Chief terminated my client for protected speech. The verdict opened the door to reinstatement and attorney’s fees.

The Court did, in fact, later award my client significant post-trial relief, including: (1) reinstatement; (2) the award of six years of missed pension credits; (3) expungement of all negative information in my client’s personnel file related to his whistle-blowing activity; (4) an injunction against further retaliation and (5) $143,116.78 in attorney’s fees and costs (100% of the fees and costs the firm charged to the client).

Monday, August 02, 2010

Employees of Large Retail Employers Entitled to Breaks beginning in March 2011

Back in 2007, I wrote that adult Maryland Employees are not entitled to breaks.

As a result of a new Maryland law that takes effect in March 2011, certain Maryland employees must be given breaks.  The law only applies to retail establishmentswith 50 or more employees and excludes wholesalers and restaurants.