Language Interpreters Who Work in Kabul Cannot Apply Two Maryland Wage Claims Against Their Employer.

Case Name: Sharma Poudel et al v. Mid Atlantic Professionals, Inc.

Court: United States District Court – District of Maryland

Date of Opinion: February 4th, 2022

Judge: Chuang

Overview: A district court judge dismissed the complaint filed by language interpreters, opining that 2 Maryland wage laws did not apply to them because they worked outside of the state.

Background:  Krishna P. Sharma Poudel and Binod Dhakal worked as Nepalese-English language interpreters from Mid Atlantic Professionals, Inc (MAPI), which provides language and other services and contracts with the United States Government. The plaintiffs worked at the United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and were no residents of the state of Maryland.

The plaintiffs allege that MAPI failed to pay them promised signing bonuses, reimburse their expenses, pay them for their hours worked, and pay them an overtime rate. In employment agreements signed by the plaintiffs, MAPI agreed to pay the plaintiffs an hourly rate of $48.00 per hour.  In May 2019, MAPI reduced the rate of pay to $40.00 per hour.  Subsequently, MAPI decided to pay the plaintiffs only $27.58 per hour for hours worked beyond 60 hours per week.

In an Amended Complaint filed with the court, the plaintiffs maintain that MAPI violated the Maryland Wage and Hour Law and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law. 

MAPI filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that, since the plaintiffs did not perform any work in the state of Maryland, any application against them would be extraterritorial. The plaintiffs maintain that the statutes apply to their case because MAPI is a Maryland Corporation and that the employment agreements contain a Maryland choice of law provision.

The judge points to caselaw that states that the Maryland District Court has applied Maryland wage laws when an employee worked in Maryland and another state, even if the majority of the work was done out of state.  Thus, the courts have concluded that application of Maryland wage laws is not extraterritorial when there is at least some work that occurred in Maryland.  The question in this case is whether the Maryland wage laws apply even if no work was performed in that state.

The judge ruled that if status of an employer under the MWPCL is enough to say that all Maryland wage claims are extraterritorial, then all employees of a company based in Maryland would be able to invoke the MWPCL even if they work outside of the state of Maryland and have never been to the state.

The court also stated that the court has not found any other source that points to the state’s intent to apply Maryland wage laws for work of an employee working outside of the state.=

Conclusion:  MAPI’s motion to dismiss the complaint of the plaintiffs is granted.

Steven M. Cohen
Law Librarian | + posts

Steven M. Cohen is a law librarian at a midsize law firm in New York City.  He was the creator of Library Stuff, one of the first library blogs, which lasted over 15 years.  He obtained his MLS from Queens College in 2002.  His passions include legal research, reading novels, and rooting on his favorite sports teams.