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Workplace Justice

Two multi-ethnic mid-adult men in their 30s, construction workers at a job site. They are wearing hardhats, reflective vests and safety glasses, standing in front of a crane.

Wage theft — when an employee isn’t paid all they’re entitled to under law — denies workers their human right to work with dignity. Wage theft is very common in Maryland, especially in low-wage jobs. Worse yet, occupational segregation and the systematic concentration of people of color and women in under-valued occupations means that immigrants, people of color, and women are the most likely to suffer. The individual and cumulative impacts of wage theft are devastating.

Wage theft can include failure to pay “off-the-clock” work, as well as failures to pay minimum wage, overtime, travel time between worksites, tip theft and more. Additionally, businesses sometimes use subcontractors to perform their work and try to avoid responsibility for wages and benefits. Another common tactic is to misclassify employees as independent contractors and tell them they’re not entitled to the wage rights employees have.

The PJC’s Workplace Justice Project promotes justice and equity in the workplace. We promote worker power through know-your-rights education, litigation to combat wage theft and other workplace violations, and policy advocacy to expand the rights of low-wage workers. We work with community partners and focus on industries where wage theft is common and where people of color comprise a disproportionate part of the workforce, including restaurants, construction, home care, janitorial and cleaning services, and landscaping.

If you need legal help related to your wages, call us at (410) 625-9409 or visit our Get Legal Help page for more information.

Impact

Secured a $1 million settlement for former employees of Mo’s Seafood restaurants, resolving their claims for unpaid wages.

Won a lawsuit that set a new standard for holding joint employers responsible for unpaid wages.

Advocated successfully for the Healthy Working Families Act, which expands earned sick and safe leave and covers more than 90% of Maryland employees.

Advocated successfully for passage of the Unpaid Wage Lien laws to enable victims of wage theft to put a pre-judgment lien on the assets of their employer.

Published Collecting Unpaid Wages & Enforcing Judgments in Maryland: A Guide to Judgment Enforcement, Asset Investigation, and Employer Accountability, which provides advice to advocates on the wage collection process.