Monthly Archives: May 2014

Federal and Maryland Wage Laws

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By: William P. Dale

For the most part, individuals and employers entering into an employment relationship have a wide latitude in structuring their contractual relationship. But there are a number of federal and state laws that are designed to provide protection to workers in multiple circumstances. One such set of laws relates to the amount of wages that must be paid to an employee.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which was enacted in 1938, was designed by Congress to protect “the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being of workers.” The Act contains two important substantive provisions affecting the wages of workers. First, it establishes a minimum wage for workers covered by the law, a rather well known provision of the statute. Second, it requires employers to pay time and a half hourly wages for overtime beyond a 40 hour work week. The Supreme Court has held that the employer has an affirmative duty to maintain accurate business records establishing the time during which an employee works.

There are certain exclusions from application of the law for executive, administrative and professional employees. And employers engaged in certain activities enumerated in the statute are not bound by the law either.

But, for employment relationships covered by the overtime law, the regulations and burdens of proof heavily favor employees. Among other pro-employee provisions of the statute is a liquidated damages provision requiring the employer to pay an amount equal to the unpaid overtime obligations in addition to payment of the required wages themselves. Furthermore, entities who may be held personally liable for making these payments include certain individuals who own the employer, or otherwise control the payroll process, and therefore the employee’s ability to recover is not limited to the company whose name appears on his paycheck.

The State of Maryland has also enacted similar overtime laws that operate in coordination with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Also, under Maryland state law an employee may obtain up to “treble damages” (triple damages) if forced to sue to recover unpaid wages.

These laws are designed to protect employees and ensure that they are compensated for their efforts, even in circumstances in which the employer seems to have an upper hand in the employment relationship. The issues involving wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act can become complex, and employers need to be aware of these laws in order to ensure that they are in compliance with the requirements. Employees need to be aware that they may have rights under these laws beyond simply what their employment agreement or oral employment understanding says.

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BOWIEFEST

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By: Victoria Chan-Pablo

PLEASE JOIN US FOR 2014 BOWIEFEST!

The 2014 Bowiefest is right around the corner! This year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 7, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Allen’s Pond, 3330 Northview Drive, Bowie, Maryland. Bowiefest brings together many Bowie organizations, businesses and entertainers together on one day and in one place for you all to see and visit.

We invite you to visit us in the Business Expo area located in the Bowie Ice Area from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Our staff would love to meet you and answer any questions you may have. We will also have some very useful giveaways for visiting our booth. We hope to see you there!
More information about Bowiefest can be found at the link provided below.
http://www.cityofbowie.org/index.aspx?NID=783

Update on Same Sex Marriage Laws: CMS FAQ on Coverage of Same-Sex Spouses.

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By: Johanna Montero-Okon

On March 14, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published a Frequently Asked Question (“FAQ”) regarding the coverage of Same-Sex Spouses. FAQ’s are generally published by the Departments for the purpose of providing further regulatory guidance by explaining or addressing specific questions the public may have on regulations or the rulemaking process.

Specifically, this FAQ is intended to address questions related to the Department’s Final Regulations published on February 27, 2013. The final regulations implement section 2702 of the Public Health Service Act, which requires that some health insurance issuers offering coverage in the group or individual markets guarantee availability of coverage unless an exception applies. In addition, pursuant to the required availability requirements and the final regulations at 45 CFR 147.104(e), the preamble to the final regulations provides that, in doing so, health insurance issuers are prohibited from implementing discriminatory marketing practices or benefit designs. The goal is to ensure that insurance companies subject to the regulations do not discriminate against same-sex married couples, but instead offer them the same benefits extended to heterosexual married couples. As provided by the Department, the FAQ should clarify the meaning of the terms used in 45 CFR. 104(e). Furthermore, the answers provided by the Department should assist health insurance issuers seeking additional guidance on the requirements they must meet to ensure availability of coverage.