Workers Rights Task Force


2017 Welfare Advocates Conference

The 2017 Welfare Advocates Conference is coming up on November 2 at the Radisson Hotel in Timonium, MD. This year, we are excited that our keynote speaker will be Marc Steiner, and he'll be talking about how to amplify the stories and voices of individuals who are marginalized. We are also having an interactive closing plenary where local leaders –including the CEOs of United Way, Catholic Charities, Advocates for Children and Youth, and the Jobs Opportunity Task Force - are being pitched the question "How Do We End Poverty?" that they’ll each answer from their own perspectives. Our theme this year is Casting a Wide Net, speaking to the need for inclusivity in our organizations, in our communities, and in our policies. Along that theme, we are having workshops on assisting our immigrant neighbors, working with LGBTQ youth, and violence prevention efforts in West Baltimore, among others. Our 1-day conference also offers 5 Category 1 CEUs for social workers! Need more convincing? On top of a delicious Italian lunch, we have incredible door prizes this year including (for the first time) tickets to the National Aquarium, tickets to see Madam Butterfly, two different ski packages at two different resorts, and several area restaurant gift cards! 

For more information - and to register - please follow this link: It's really a great conference and we hope to see you there!

Minimum Wage Rises in Maryland

The statewide minimum wage in Maryland rose to $8.75 per hour on July 1, 2016.  The minimum wage in Montgomery County rose to $10.75/hour.  The minimum wage in Prince George's County will also rise to $10.75/hour on October 1, 2016.

However the minimum wage under Maryland law does not apply to some workers. See for a lsit of the exceptions. Please note that the federal minimum wage, set by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) may apply to some of those exempted by the Maryland statute. FLSA sets the national minimum wage at $7.25 per hour.

Workers' Rights Task Force meeting

Thu, 04/07/2016 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

Meetings will be held at Maryland Legal Aid Offices on the following dates:

April 7 - Midwestern MD office in Frederick

June 2 - Metropolitan MD office in Landover

Aug. 4 - Upper Shore office in Easton

Oct. 6 - Baltimore City office

Dec. 1 - Metropolitan MD office in Landover

Find our office addresses at, and click on the office in the menu bar on the right side of the page.

Find the GoToMeeting lInk at If you cannot see this link, you are not a member of the Task Force, contact the moderators to become a member.

Location Name: 
Maryland Legal Aid
Jennifer Smith and Lou Dorsey
Phone: and
MD Legal Aid

Caregiver Conference

The Howard County Office on Aging is hosting a conference for people caring for aging loved ones on Saturday, November 14th from 8am-3pm at the North Laurel Community Center in Laurel, MD. Details and registration are here: www.howardcountyaging/org/caregiver and in the attached flier.

4th Annual Caregiver Conference Nov 14 2015.pdf187.6 KB

Survey About Mediation in Circuit Court Non-Family Cases


The Salisbury University Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution is working with the Maryland Judiciary on a survey research project about attorney experience in Circuit Court Mediation Programs for Civil Non-Family Cases. The survey takes on average 7 minutes to complete and any attorney in Maryland that practices in the circuit court is eligible. The purpose is to examine the rate of use and explore issues and concerns that attorneys say enhances or limits the use of mediation.


This survey research is being overseen by the Maryland Judiciary’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution. The results will be disseminated by MACRO at the conclusion of the project and will be used to improve the use of mediation, when appropriate, in civil non-family cases.

Questions regarding the research can be directed to Brian Polkinghorn, Ph.D., Executive Director, Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution at

Appeals Court Upholds Minimum Wage For Home-Care Workers

On Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a new Department of Labor (DOL) rule granting home care workers the right to minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The three judge panel ruled in Home Care Association, et al. v. Weil, et al. that the DOL was acting within its authority when it updated FLSA regulations extending minimum-wage and overtime provisions to employees of third-party agencies who provide companionship services and live-in care within a home. 

The ruling will affect an estimated 2 million home care workers who may now seek help from the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division if their rights are violated. 

For more information, please see: 

Kaiser Health News - Overtime Pay, Minimum Wage Protections For Home-Health Workers Reinstated 

Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute - Understanding the Revised Companionship Exemption


Wayne Turner
Staff Attorney – DC Office
National Health Law Program
D +1 202 289 7661  ext. 307
F +1 202 289 7724

New Pro Bono Program From the SSA

A new pro bono program seeks volunteers to act as representative payees.  A flyer is attached.  For more information, go to

Rep Payee Pro Bono Program.pdf193.87 KB

Pretty cool new demographic website

Esri is an exciting company doing important work. Our technology enables organizations to create responsible and sustainable solutions to problems at local and global scales.

At Esri, we believe that geography is at the heart of a more resilient and sustainable future. Governments, industry leaders, academics, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) trust us to connect them with the analytic knowledge they need to make these critical decisions that shape the planet.

We invite you to discover ways that you can leverage our technology and expertise in your own organization. 

Zip Code look up:

Other demographics:

New Criminal Records Expungement resource!

I hope I am not spoiling anyone's pending announcement too badly ...

There's a new web-based resource for clienbts for clearing their criminal record. Find it at

The website has 3 buttons that explain what expungement is (What Is Expungement?), explain how to clear a user's criminal record (How Can I Expunge My Record?), and helps a user figure out whether their criminal record can be expunged (Can I Expunge My Record?).

I have attached a pdf of the About Us page so you can find more details about the project.

This is very cool!

expungemaryland.pdf252.31 KB

Enroll in Health Coverage at HealthConnectNow on March 1 at the B'More Healthy Expo

Please pass along this information froim Health Care Access Maryland to clients, friends and family:

Come to the HealthConnectNow! Enrollment Event from 10 am – 5 pm on March 1st at the B’More Healthy Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. HCAM’s Certified Navigators will be on hand to answer your questions and help you enroll. Visit us on Level 300!

Click here for the event flyer.


HealthConnectNow! Enrollment events will be scheduled across the state throughout March - check out the event list at for more dates and locations. Remember, open enrollment for Maryland Health Connection ends March 31!

(Sorry for the duplicate postings).

Extension of interpreters for court-ordered services

The Judiciary recently issued a policy to expand interpretation services to court-ordered services and programs, including:

-- Mediation

-- Court evaluations

-- Court-appointed attorneys

-- Self-Help Centers

and many more.

The attached list is intended to be inclusive. Please contact the Administrative Office of the Courts Program Services Unit at (410) 260-1291 for more information about coverage of particular services.

Feel free to bring to the attention of the Language Access Task Force if you think an interpreter should be appointed for a particular service, but a court refuses to assign one.

MD Judiciary's Language Access Plan

Here is the plan issued by the Maryland Judiciary as to their efforts to maintain and increase accessibility for limited English proficient clients in the courts.

Highlights include:

-- Plans to improve data collection re: LEP participation in the courts

-- Expand interpretation services to court-ordered services and programs

-- Hiring court-employed interpreters in several courts, including AA County, B. County and B. City, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's County

-- Improving the numbers of translated forms available on the courts' websites



MD Judiciary's Language Access Plan.pdf1.04 MB

WRTF - Agenda Items for Discussion

Hello All,

The date and time of the next Worker's Rights Task Force Meeting is Feb. 6, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at LAB-City in the 2nd floor Board Rm.

Please email any topics for discussion that you would like added to the Agenda to Jennifer Smith or me asap. Both Jennifer and I look forward to hearing from your participation and input on the WRTF, as we kick-off a new year.



Workers Rights Task Force

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

If you are a member of the Task Force, find the GoToMeeting information at:

Be sure to sign in to see the page.

Locations for 2014 meetings are:

Feb. 6  – Baltimore
April 3 – Metro
June 5 – Baltimore
Aug. 7 – Metro
Oct. 2  – Baltimore
Dec. 4  – Metro

for addresses of the above offices, go to:

Location Name: 
See notes above
Jennifer Smith and Louis Dorsey
Phone: and
MD Legal Aid

Affordable Care Act FAQs

From HHS:

On January 9, 2014, the Department of Labor, the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released its Frequently Asked Questions on the Affordable Care Act. These FAQs are intended to assist the public in understanding the law so they can benefit from it as intended.

The FAQs address:

· Coverage of Preventive Services

· Limitations on Cost-Sharing under the Affordable Care Act – Maximum Out of Pocket costs

· Expatriate Health Plans

· Wellness Programs

· Fixed Indemnity Insurance – Excepted Benefits

· The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008

The tri-department FAQs are available at and .

Food Stamp/SNAP benefits reduced as of November 1, 2013.

Food Stamp or SNAP benefits fell on November 1, 2013 for more than 47 million lower-income people -- 1 in 7 Americans -- most of whom live in households with children, seniors or people with disabilities. That amounts to 21 meals per month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cuts will leave participants in the program with an average of $1.40 to spend on each meal. The amount people get could sink even more if Congress makes deeper cuts later this year when House and Senate lawmakers try to hammer out a farm bill.

Statistics show that roughly half of all U.S. children go on food stamps sometime during their childhood; half of all adults are on them sometime between the ages of 18 and 65. The USDA estimates that, as of last year, nearly 15 percent of American families, or 18 million households, lacked enough food at least some of the time to ensure that all family members could stay healthy.

Economists have found that every dollar of SNAP spending generates roughly $1.70 in local economic activity. The USDA has calculated that food stamps generate an even bigger bang for the buck. So pinching food stamp recipients also will squeeze the broader U.S. economy. Among other effects, that could dent revenues for the nearly 250,000 groceries and supermarkets around the country that accept SNAP payments, potentially affecting everyone from store workers and truck drivers delivering food to consumers, as food sellers raise prices to offset the loss of revenue. 

Many people who get food stamps are working. Well over half of SNAP recipients have jobs, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. More than 80 percent of beneficiaries find employment within a year of starting to collect payments.

Although some Democrats in Congress have attacked the Nov. 1 rollback in benefits, the Democratic-controlled Senate in June approved legislation that included $4.5 billion in SNAP cuts. House Republicans envision far more draconian cuts, passing a bill last month that would cut funding for the program by $40 billion over 10 years. 

Read more:

Verizon Reduces Free Directory Assistance Calls from 4 to 2 Calls

Office of People’s Counsel


Verizon Reduces Free Directory Assistance Calls from 4 to 2 Calls

October 16, 2013

Verizon Maryland has reduced the number of free directory assistance calls from 4 to 2 calls per month effective October 16, 2013 for landline (wired) telephone service. Each directory assistance call above 2 calls per month will cost $1.99 per call. This change may impact your clients, including Lifeline customers, if they rely on landline service and 411
Directory Assistance from Verizon.

The Company took this action after a new law went into effect on October 1, 2013 permitting Verizon to do this and preventing the Commission from denying the call reduction. The law was passed after OPC successfully opposed this change in two cases heard by the Public Service Commission.

OPC had opposed this change for a simple reason. Even in this age of smart phones and broadband access, adults who are older or with lower incomes will be disproportionately impacted by this bill, since they are more likely than other adults to rely on landline phones and have the need for directory assistance. They will now be subject to additional expenses if they make more than two calls per month.

These are some options for customers to obtain free Directory Assistance information:

  • Internet:
  • Hard copy residential directory: Call 800-888-8448 to obtain a paper or CD-ROM version of the white pages.
  • Physical or visual disabilities: Verizon cannot charge for directory assistance when these disabilities prevent a customer
    from using a telephone directory. If a customer has such disabilities, she should contact Verizon to get this restriction in the customer’s record.

If the customer with disabilities does not get a satisfactory response from Verizon, she should contact the Public Service Commission to make a complaint at 800-735-0474 or 800-735-2258 (TTY/Voice).

OPC also recommends that cell phone users without data plans should check their cell phone plans for the cost of directory assistance calls charged by their cell phone providers.

Alert Directory Assistance Call Reduction.doc64.5 KB
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