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Articles by Jose L. Espejo

Revised Version of Form I-9

If you’re a business owner in the United States, you’re likely familiar with Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification form. It’s essential to the hiring process, ensuring all your employees, both citizens and non-citizens, are authorized to work in the U.S.

The Shifting Landscape of Employee and Wage Claims

Employers face the constant challenge of regulatory requirements, which keep changing.  To further complicate matters,  compliance with employment obligations to employees varies from the employer’s home state to other states where remote employees work.  An employer’s compliance failure, regardless of whether it was inadvertent or minor, could provide an employee with an opportunity for an employee to hold their employer liable for statutory violations.  Employers and their employees should understand the rules for overtime pay, who can be a salaried employee and rules for employee classification, and what happens if wages are not properly paid. 

Beware of Treble Damages for Late Payment of Wages

Massachusetts, like Maryland and the District of Columbia (which has a liquidated damages provision requiring 4 times the wages due), has treble damages when wages are late. According to the Massachusetts statute, the terminated employee must be paid all wages due on the date of discharge, while an employee who resigns must be paid by the next regularly scheduled payroll after the last day of employment.

How To Tell If A Check Is Fake

As online shopping continues to grow, consumers are relying more than ever on issuing payment for those transactions remotely.  Despite the appeal and convenience, especially during a global pandemic, many transactions continue to be paid for with traditional checks, including  cashier checks.  The appeal of checks is due to the sense of security that the financial institution has cleared the funds for disbursement. However, with advanced technology in digital copying and document manipulation, checks are particularly prone to counterfeits and scams.  The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Consumer Sentinel Network database alone reported more than 27,000 counterfeit check scams with losses topping $28 million dollars in 2019.  The FTC also provides that the median loss reported on a counterfeit check scam is about $1,988. 

Proving Age Discrimination Just Got Easier for Federal Employees

A recent Supreme Court decision in Babb v. Wilkie has eased the burden of proof for federal employees to prove discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). Getting relief is still challenging for employees no matter where they work, nonetheless, with a contracting economy, an uptick of age discrimination claims is expected in the next few months. 

Coronavirus Brings Financial Assistance to Small Businesses

As our governments on the federal, state and local levels respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the small businesses at the heart of the economy are quickly feeling the impact of each new restrictive measure designed to “flatten the curve.” Fortunately, new relief programs for small businesses are rolling out at every level of government. We have summarized key programs in the DC metro area as of March 25, 2020. 

The Hazy World of Weed at Work in Maryland

The legalization of medical marijuana is ever increasing with 33 states now permitting the use of medical marijuana, including Maryland. Yet, Maryland has not passed employment protections for users into its medical marijuana laws. As a result, Maryland state law conflicts with federal law, leaving employers and workers scrambling to determine how to protect themselves when faced with questions of drug testing, performance, accommodations, and leave.  For now, Maryland employers can still discipline employees for being under the influence at work and for failing a drug test if the employer has a strong workplace drug policy. Maryland employers are not required to accommodate an employee on the basis of a medical cannabis ID card, but should be cautious to engage in an interactive process before any outright denial of a request for accommodation.