Experienced Unpaid Wages Lawyers
Our lawyers understand the unfairness and frustration of being underpaid or unpaid for hard work. Since 2011, Greene & Hafer has dedicated its entire practice to employment law. Our attorneys are experienced, successful and get quick results for clients who are owed unpaid wages, commissions, and benefits.
Federal law and Massachusetts law both provide strong protections to employees to ensure they are properly and fairly paid earned wages. Under Massachusetts Wage Laws, employees are entitled to treble damages and attorney’s fees for successful claims. While based in Boston, Greene & Hafer serves clients all over Massachusetts including Woburn, Dedham, Framingham, Lowell, Lynn, Newton, Quincy, Salem, Worcester, and all areas in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, and Plymouth Counties.
Here’s what you need to know when it comes to unpaid wages:
Types of Claims that an Unpaid Wages Lawyer Will Help With
The majority of wage and hour violations involve unpaid overtime compensation, improperly paying an employee a salary instead of an hourly rate of pay, unpaid commissions, misclassification of their employees as independent contractors. Other wage issues involve pressuring to falsify their timesheets to reflect fewer hours than the ones they worked.
The Massachusetts Wage Act, M.G.L. c. 149, §148, provides protection to employees who are not paid earned wages in a timely fashion. Wages includes employee’s salary or hourly pay, earned commissions, earned sick time, and vacation time. Additionally, in some circumstance’s compensation for which a company labels as a bonus is determined to be wages under the law and is recoverable under the Wage Act.
The Wage Act provides automatic treble damages, payment of attorney’s fees and litigation costs. There are administrative requirements that must be completed before filing a claim. It is important to consult with an attorney to ensure you preserve your wage claims.
If you believe your employer has violated state or federal wage and hour laws please call one of our attorneys at (617) 396-4600 or fill out the online contact form and one of our Boston wage and hour lawyers will quickly respond.
Under the Federal law, Fair Labor Standards Act and Massachusetts Minimum Wage and Overtime law, employers are required to pay employees a minimum hourly salary. Additionally, employees who are non-exempt are entitled to overtime at one and a half times their hourly rate if they work over forty hours in a workweek. Determining whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt is not always an easy task. Our experienced attorneys achieve substantial monetary awards and prompt results for clients who are owed unpaid wages, commissions, and benefits.
Massachusetts has one of the strictest statutes regulating independent contractors. Pursuant to G. L. c. 149, § 148B, only individuals who meet the following three prong test may be classified as independent contractors:
- the individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under his contract for the performance of service and in fact; and
- the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer; and
- the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed.
Employees who are misclassified as independent contractors are often denied overtime pay, lost benefits, paid time off, leave benefits and may have additional claims such as minimum wage; workers’ compensation; and payroll records.
Misclassified workers are paid on a 1099 tax form instead of a W-2 tax form, are responsible for their own taxes, are not provided employee benefits, and are usually treated as exempt from overtime pay. True independent contractors must work in an independent field that is outside of the employer’s usual business, must be free from direction and control of the employer and must be free to engage in work outside of the work being done for the employer.
If you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor or need assistance to determine the proper classification, an experienced wage and hour attorney can help provide the help and guidance you need.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The FLSA is the federal law that protects workers’ rights by setting important parameters like minimum wage, salaried vs. hourly employment arrangements, and overtime pay requirements. In addition to federal laws protecting workers, many states, including Massachusetts, have their own wage and hour laws that dictate things like: when and how much an employee must be paid; minimums for overtime pay; requirements for payment of bonuses and commissions; and proper independent contractor classification.
In Massachusetts, employee’s wages are protected by the Massachusetts Wage Act. The statute dictates how much and when employees must be paid and whether a worker can be treated as an independent contractor. The Massachusetts Wage Act provides powerful legal protections for employees. It allows for a three year “look back” to ensure that employers are properly paying wages and protecting employee rights of workers who are not properly paid, or not paid at all.
Massachusetts Wage Act
Under the Massachusetts Wage Act, if your employer fails to pay your wages, fails to pay you overtime as an hourly employee, or misclassifies you as an independent contractor, you are entitled to damages totalling three times the amount owed to you, plus your attorney fees and costs of enforcement. Enforcing a breach of the Wage Act can be tricky – employees must file wage claims with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and also file a complaint in court in order for the award of triple damages to attach to a claim. An experienced unpaid wages lawyer can assist you through the process and ensure that you are able to preserve your claims and damages.
As an employer, it is vitally important to have a wage and hour attorney review your wage payment process to ensure that it is compliant with state and federal law.
Can I sue my employer for not paying me?
The short answer is yes. And it is important to take action if you believe that your employer is paying you improperly or withholding wages from you. The FLSA and Massachusetts Wage Act are the enforcement mechanisms to ensure that payment is properly made. Claims for unpaid wages will ensure that damages are paid, including treble damages, attorney fees and costs.
If you work in Massachusetts and believe your employer is withholding wages from you, you can start by filing an unpaid wages claim with the Attorney General’s Office here. However, to secure your right to triple damages, your claim must also be filed in court by an attorney. One of our experienced attorneys can support you through this process and, if necessary, escalate your claim to a lawsuit.