Questions Answered by Joseph D. Allen

Q: This is regarding a federal agency being hacked.

1 Answer | Asked in Criminal Law and Federal Crimes for Maryland on
Answered on May 16, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
Criminal liability in a situation like this might result from defrauding one of the parties- e.g. obtaining something of value (your fees) from them under false pretenses (perhaps that you are not using the confidential info obtained from them in one matter against them in the other matter). Particularly if by agency, you mean a government agency. Civil liability is a possibility as well- breach of various agreements and duties owed to clients. If you were an attorney, being directly adverse...

Q: Company losing contract but new company wants me to come work for them. Non solicitation for employees and customers

1 Answer | Asked in Employment Law for Maryland on
Answered on May 9, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
You'd need an attorney to review the non-solicitation clause in the context of the entire agreement, to see if it is enforceable or applies to your planned new job. Your question sounds like it could possibly implicate a non-compete clause rather than non-solicitation.

Q: My landlord is terminating my lease 2 months early because she is getting new flooring in the apartment. Is this legal?

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for Maryland on
Answered on May 6, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
Typically, unless you have language in your lease that specifically allows for early termination under these circumstances, the landlord is required to lease the premises for the term that you agreed on.

Q: I have been pursued by a crazy lady that lost 6 cases against me and now filed at Circuit Court.

1 Answer | Asked in Civil Litigation for Maryland on
Answered on May 6, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
It is unclear from your question what the basis for the "abuse of process" claim is, but it is clear that this is a dispute with many complications, which may entail a lot of time spent by an attorney. You should contact civil litigation attorneys until you find one who is willing to listen to your situation, and discuss whether a contingency fee arrangement would make sense in the circumstances.

Q: I need to sign a contract with an IT staffing Company and I don't understand a clause in it?

2 Answers | Asked in Employment Law for Maryland on
Answered on Feb 20, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
You'd need to ask an attorney to tell you what the clause means. It might be a good idea to have the entire contract reviewed also.

Q: Is it ethical for an employer to have 1 person who does Human Resources for the entire office inccluding the hiring,

1 Answer | Asked in Employment Law, Workers' Compensation, Employment Discrimination and Gov & Administrative Law for Maryland on
Answered on Feb 20, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
There is nothing illegal about only having one HR staff person. If an employer complies with the laws and regulations applicable to it, that's all that matters. It's just difficult to do without professional help, as the workers comp incident illustrates. Employers can't retaliate against employees for filing claims, nor can they provide false information about the circumstances of an injury in an attempt to have the claim denied.

Q: Does my landlord have the right to tell me what I am allowed to store in my carport?

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for Maryland on
Answered on Feb 14, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
The first place to look is the lease language regarding the tenant's responsibilities to maintain the premises (and the carport in particular). Sometimes it is vague and ambiguous, so might turn on the reasonableness of the landlord's request vs. the reasonableness of your conduct. Tenants can be found in breach of their lease for junking up a yard and refusing to clean it up, but based on the facts in your question that doesn't seem to be the case.

Q: Can I charge a 1.5% per day late fee as long as it doesn’t exceed a total of 10% for the month? It will cut off at 10.

1 Answer | Asked in Consumer Law for Maryland on
Answered on Feb 1, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
On the surface, I see no reason you couldn't structure your late fee in that manner. But you should clearly say it is capped at 10% per late payment. Or, you could charge the 10% on the 15th day with a discount credited if they paid between 15 and 22 days late. Or, just keep it simple and charge the 10%.

Q: Would obtaining consent after recording an individual in a public setting with no expectation of privacy be illegalinMD?

2 Answers | Asked in Civil Rights for Maryland on
Answered on Jan 30, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
Reasonable expectation of privacy (or the lack thereof) is a concept that is only relevant to non-audio video recording of individuals. It would be safer to ask the customers to provide prior consent after telling them what you intend to use the recordings for- but as you note, this would also probably skew or make your study findings invalid. Perhaps you could simply take notes rather than record the interactions.

Q: Can a tenant in Maryland sue a landlord for failure to enforce its lease provisions on other tenants?

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for Maryland on
Answered on Jan 30, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
Perhaps, if the failure to enforce deprived you of the "quiet enjoyment" of the premises. The lease language may also provide limitations on your right to sue- such as a written notice to the landlord and a reasonable opportunity to cure the problem (which is also generally the requirement under MD law in the absence of lease provisions).

Q: How soon can I start eviction process for a storefront that I rent to someone when they fail to pay rent?

2 Answers | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for Maryland on
Answered on Jan 18, 2019
Joseph D. Allen's answer
The answer will depend on the relevant language in the lease. You may want to hire an attorney to review the lease and advise you as to your rights and the process.

Q: My Landlord is not returning my security deposit even after 45 days since I moved out . Please advice.

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for Maryland on
Answered on Dec 18, 2018
Joseph D. Allen's answer
It doesn't sound like, based on what you say, that the landlord is in compliance with MD law with regard to the retention of your security deposit. Also, if your lease term was to end on 10/31, and you gave enough notice according to the lease of your termination (and it didn't automatically renew for another year before you gave notice), the landlord can't hold you responsible for rent until she finds a new tenant. You should discuss with an attorney practicing in landlord/tenant law. There...

Q: Landlord will not provide rent receipts for my cash payments, can he say I’d didn’t pay rent and take me to court ?

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for Maryland on
Answered on Dec 13, 2018
Joseph D. Allen's answer
From what you've said, it does seem that the landlord is violating the lease, and potentially state laws (namely, by taking cash payments without a receipt given and increasing rent without notice). You should probably speak with an attorney- a lot will depend on what your lease says exactly, and other circumstances.

Q: Im in Prince Georges County Maryland. My Landlord refuses to honor 2-year Lease by

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for Maryland on
Answered on Dec 13, 2018
Joseph D. Allen's answer
If the lease requires the landlord to pay utilities, then that is what they have to do. It is unlikely that your lease allows the landlord to unilaterally terminate the lease early- so if you don't want to do that, don't agree to early termination. It might be advisable to send the landlord a certified letter stating your demand that they pay the utilities, and that you don't agree to early termination of the lease. If push comes to shove, speak with a landlord/tenant attorney.

Q: I recently terminated an employee. That employee has filed false BBB claim and libelous posts to FB. Is this criminal

1 Answer | Asked in Criminal Law and Libel & Slander for Maryland on
Answered on Nov 29, 2018
Joseph D. Allen's answer
It appears at first blush that the only potentially criminal action here would be the "gunning for [you]" comment- but that is susceptible to various interpretations. The rest is potentially a civil claim for defamation, but those cases are difficult and highly fact-specific. Another thing to consider is whether you could collect from the ex-employee on any judgment you might obtain. You may want to consult an attorney. You might also want to contact the BBB and complain to them about the...

Q: My employer in Montgomery County md is refusing to put in my accrued sick pay while Im on maternity leave. What can I do

1 Answer | Asked in Employment Law and Employment Discrimination for Maryland on
Answered on Nov 20, 2018
Joseph D. Allen's answer
Maryland employers (that have at least 15 employees) are required to offer only unpaid maternity leave, under the Parental Leave Act. However, under the Maryland Flexible Leave Act, those employers must allow employees on unpaid leave to care for a newborn to elect to use their earned/accrued PTO instead of unpaid leave. You could either inform your employer of that law and ask them to reconsider, file a complaint with the DLLR, or hire an attorney (who may or may not take your case on...

Q: Per MD, the landlord has 45 days to return the security deposit or itemized list. Is it from end of tenancy or lease?

1 Answer | Asked in Landlord - Tenant for Maryland on
Answered on Nov 19, 2018
Joseph D. Allen's answer
Provided that you gave appropriate notice of moving out, the 45 day limit would apply from the end of the tenancy (in this case, the same day as the move-out). However, the landlord being one day late on the list is going to be a pretty weak technical argument. You can try that argument, but you may be better off also challenging the damage items, or depending on all the facts, countering that the landlord didn't repair the property appropriately during the tenancy.

Q: can an employer change & reduce salary to hourly & say it was based on 45 hours per week if the pay stub clearly say 40?

1 Answer | Asked in Employment Law for Maryland on
Answered on Nov 19, 2018
Joseph D. Allen's answer
As long as the employer gives at least a pay period advance notice to employee of a reduction in pay, they are not violating any laws in MD. However, your question raises the issue of whether you were appropriately classified as exempt in the first place- if your job duties have truly remained the same, and you are now being called non-exempt.

A salary can be based on a 45 hour (or longer) workweek. But if you were in fact working more than 40 hours a week, and your job duties (and...

Q: Joining the Army, but bump in the road. What should I do? Please read carefully

1 Answer | Asked in Military Law for Maryland on
Answered on Nov 15, 2018
Joseph D. Allen's answer
It wouldn't help anything to lie about the previous incident. If you know the name of the Navy recruiter, it is odd that they can't find him/her. However, it is very unlikely they would support your story and admit they told you to lie, even if they found them. What doesn't add up here is why you apparently told other recruiters about the Navy issue, but not the Army recruiter looking at your file. Anyhow, you may be ultimately unsuccessful in joining the Army- but the best bet seems to be...

Q: Maryland sick/safe law, can you be forceto use your accrued PTO?

1 Answer | Asked in Business Law and Employment Law for Maryland on
Answered on Nov 12, 2018
Joseph D. Allen's answer
As long as the employer's overall PTO policy provides the minimum sick/safe leave, they can require the employee to use earned PTO. However, if the employer does not set aside leave that can only be used for sick/safe purposes, the DLLR guidance states that it "strongly encourages such employers to advise employees that sick and safe leave is covered by the existing PTO the employer provides and that any additional sick and safe leave will not be provided." But based on your question, it...

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