Many workers may feel that they are being mistreated at work. They know their employer is doing something wrong, but they are not sure exactly what it is. In fact, employees are often unaware that their employer is violating the Massachusetts wage laws. The state of Massachusetts recently amended the Wage Act and the Independent Contractor law to better protect workers, and many employers are not complying with the laws.
One of the most common violations of the wage laws is where the employer simply does not pay the employee for all the time they have worked. An employer can face serious liability for unpaid wages. If you are required to work off the clock, such as by answering and responding to off-hours emails and calls, or you are required to map out and plan for your work day before your shift starts, you are likely entitled to compensation and wages for that time. Where the time spent on these types of activities is very small, the courts will recognize a De Minimis exception, meaning an employer will not be penalized if you spent 30 seconds working off the clock and nothing more.
Travel Time, On-Call Time, and Training
Employees must also be compensated for travel time between jobsites throughout the work day. Although an employee is not normally entitled to wages for their commute to and from work, they may be if they are required to go a location different from their normal home office or jobsite. You may also be entitled to wages for being on-call, where you must remain nearby and your movement is restricted. Lastly, you must be paid your wages for time you spend in training, unless the training is outside normal business hours, voluntary, the training or lecture is not directly related to the job, and you do not perform any productive work for the employer during the time.
Unpaid wages can also take more forms than simply not being paid for all your working time. If you are paid as an independent contractor, with cash under the table, or by an IRS Form-1099, you likely have a claim against your employer for misclassifying you and leaving you with an unfair tax burden. In essence, your employer is not paying wages and benefits they owe you. Lastly, many employers salary an employee when they should be paid for overtime. If your employer illegally salaries you, pays you a daily rate, or classifies you as a contractor, then you may be entitled to additional overtime compensation depending on how many hours over forty you worked each week.
You are entitled to triple damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs if your employer violates the wage laws described above. The law also prohibits an employer from retaliating against you for a good faith request or complaint to be paid the wages you are owed. Employers are concerned about this law yet many employees do not know their rights. If you suspect your employer is not paying you correctly, whether you are not being paid for all your hours worked, paid cash under the table, or are salaried with no overtime, contact Keches Law Group for a free consultation.
If you have questions about unpaid wages or feel that your employer is not paying you what you are owed, call our toll-free at 617-898-0808, or visit us online for a free consultation.