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.