CASE PRINTOUTS TO ACCOMPANY
WEST’S LEGAL ENVIRONMENT OF BUSINESS
No. 103, Sept. Term, 2000.
June 25, 2001.
The issue before us is whether tips earned by a waitress (or other person who earns tips) constitute "wages" for purposes of
the Maryland wage garnishment law, Maryland Code, §§ 15-601 through 15-607 of the Commercial Law Article. Principally
at issue is whether tips fall within the definition of "wages" in § 15-601(c): "all monetary remuneration paid to any employee
for his employment." The District Court of Maryland, sitting in Baltimore County, and, on appeal, the Circuit Court for
Baltimore County held that tips paid to the waitress directly by restaurant customers did not constitute wages under that
definition and were therefore not to be included in the calculation of attachable wages for purposes of a garnishment served
upon the restaurant. With one important caveat, we disagree with that conclusion.
The relevant facts are undisputed. In January, 1995, petitioner, Laura Shanks, recovered a judgment for $6,000 against
Susan Dolle, in the District Court. In April, 1998, Ms. Shanks caused a wage garnishment to be issued by the District Court
"attachable wages" for any work week until either the judgment, interest, and other charges and costs specified in the
attachment were satisfied or Kibby's was otherwise notified by the court. The writ also stated, in relevant part, that exempt
from the garnishment was the greater of (1) the product of $154.50 multiplied by the number of weeks in which "the wages
due were earned," or (2) 75% of "the disposable wages due." [FN1] The term "disposable wages" was defined to *541 mean
"the part of wages that remain after deduction of any amount required to be withheld by law."
FN1. The figure $154.50 was interlineated over the printed figure $145.00, for reasons that are not clear. Maryland Code, §
15-601.1(b) of the Commercial Law Article provides that the following are exempt from attachment: "the greater of (i)[t]he
product of $145 multiplied by the number of weeks in which the wages due were earned; or (ii) 75 percent of the disposable
wages due." The parties agree, however, that the $154.50 figure is correct, and, in this case, is the proper amount of