Division of Labor and Industry


Remedies for Unpaid Wages - The Maryland Guide to Wage Payment and Employment Standards


En Espaņol

E-Mail Address: ess@dllr.state.md.us

If you are an employee whose wages have been illegally withheld, you have three options under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (you may only choose one):

  1. The Employment Standards Service (ESS), at (410) 767-2357 can provide information on wages and employment rights under Maryland law. On receipt of a proper claim for unpaid wages available by calling (410) 767-2357 or on line, ESS will conduct an independent investigation and work to collect any pay which is determined due. This may include taking the employer to court if the matter cannot be informally settled.

    For those wishing to file a claim for unpaid wages, and for quickest results, it is suggested that a CERTIFIED letter RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED, be sent to the employer stating the amount of money owed, identifying the hours and days or commissions this money represents, and demanding payment by a specific deadline (such as 10 days from receipt of the certified letter). It may help collection on the claim later to send the letter Certified Mail, as suggested, so as to receive back the green receipt proving the employer signed for and received it. In addition, a copy of this letter should be kept and later provided together with a claim form to the Employment Standards Service if the employer still does not pay. To request a claim form be mailed call 410-767-2357 or you may download the claim form on line by visiting our web site and browsing to >Labor and Industry>Wage & Hour>Claim Form. Be sure to answer all questions and follow all directions when completing the claim form. The claim form must include your original signature and be mailed to ESS before an investigation is initiated. 
  2. An employee may file a lawsuit. Where a court finds that wages were withheld in violation of the Maryland Wage Payment Law, and not as a result of a bona fide dispute, the court may award damages of up to three times the amount of the unpaid wage plus attorney fees.
  3. An employee may file criminal charges. Under certain circumstances, Maryland law imposes criminal penalties for an employer who deliberately fails to pay the wage of an employee without a valid reason, or provides employment with the intent not to pay.

*Note on Jurisdiction
Claims for unpaid wages must be brought in the state in which the work was performed. If work was performed in more than one state, claims may generally be filed in the state in which the employer maintains its business office-that is, the office where the employee reports to or was hired out of.

The following is a list of phone numbers of wage and hour offices in neighboring states and political subdivisions:

  • Virginia - (804) 371-2327
  • West Virginia - (304) 558-7890
  • Pennsylvania - (717) 787-4671
  • New Jersey - (609) 292-2337
  • Delaware - (302) 761-8200
  • Baltimore City - (410) 396-4835