A quick lesson from a wage and overtime case that I just settled earlier this month -- if your employer asks you to undertake a task that benefits the employer, then the employer may be required to pay you for that task. In this case, my client drove a truck for a national healthcare services corporation delivering medical supplies to patients at their homes. Each morning, however, his employer required him to drive his car to a warehouse to pick up the truck, make sure it was loaded with medical supplies, and then drive it to the employer's office, where he would receive his daily delivery schedule. The employer only paid my client from the time he checked in at the employer's office until the time he left the last patient's house. The employer did not believe that my client was entitled to be paid for the "travel time" incurred driving the truck from the warehouse to the office, but several courts that have considered similar factual scenarios have held that such time is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). Fortunately, we were able to resolve the matter without the need for litigation, and my client received a favorable settlement.
During the past six months, I've settled three cases involving similar situations that most employers -- and potential employees -- do not even realize violates Maryland law. Here's what happens: Company A recruits an employee from Company B, or advertises for an open position, and an employee from Company B agrees to work for Company A. The employee is given a verbal or written offer to work at Company A and accepts the offer. The employee then gives his or her two-week notice, and Company B hires a replacement for the employee. At the last minute, the employee receives an email or a telephone call from Company B informing the employee that the job is no longer available, or that the job offer has been rescinded. The employee is left without a job and will not qualify for unemployment because the employee voluntarily quit his or her previous job.
Under Maryland law, it is illegal for an employer to make a "negligent misrepresentation" to a potential employee if the employer knows that the potential employee is likely to rely upon that misrepresentation by quitting their current job, and if the potential employee actually quits his or her current job to his or her detriment. In plain English, if a prospective employer offers you a job, and you tell the employer that you are going to quit your current job, and if you actually quit your current job and then find out that the prospective employer has changed his mind or is no longer willing to hire you, then you can file suit for negligent misrepresentation.