The Law Offices of Joshua N. Garick, P.C. handles a variety of wage and hour violations that arise in an employment context. This includes violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the Massachusetts Wage Act. These laws require a Court to award up to triple damages, attorneys’ fees, prejudgment interest and costs to an employee who is forced to file a lawsuit against its employer. It also permits an employee to pursue these claims either individually or on behalf of others similarly situated (i.e., a class action). There are also strict anti-retaliation provisions to ensure that an employee who properly pursues legal action while still working for the employer can collect their pay without fear of retribution. There are many benefits to filing a wage & hour claim, however it is important to consult with a seasoned employment attorney to ensure your rights are adequately protected before filing a lawsuit. We have significant experience filing wage & hour lawsuits as individual claims and as class action lawsuits. We would be happy to discuss your case with you and advise you on the best course of action.
There are many wage & hour laws that cover everything from unpaid wages, to meal breaks, to reporting pay requirements. The following is a sampling of some of the more common lawsuits we have filed:
Unpaid Wages: The most common wage/hour violation is the unpaid wage claim. Massachusetts requires the payment of wages promptly at the conclusion of the pay period. This includes payment of commissions, tips and (in some circumstances) vacation pay. You may also have an unpaid wage claim if your employer makes any unlawful deductions or set-offs from your pay check. We have seen unlawful deductions for meals, workers’ compensation insurance premiums, uniforms, tips for other employees, and other unexplained deductions. None of these are lawful deductions. If you pay has been withheld, reduced, if your paychecks bounce, or if you are owed hours or paid time off at the conclusion of your employment, please contact us to determine whether you have an unpaid wage claim against your employer.
Unpaid Overtime: The Massachusetts Wage Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act requires payment of wages of at least time and a half (i.e., one and one half times the regular rate of pay) for each hour worked over 40 hours in any given work week. There are many types of employees that are exempted from overtime laws. Some exemptions differ between state and federal law. We can tell you whether your employer is obligated to pay you overtime and collect those wages if they have been wrongfully withheld.
Prevailing Wage: In certain public works projects, where a contractor is hired by a city or town, employees are entitled to a prevailing wage that is set by the state. In these circumstances, the employer must pay its employees the prevailing wage, and an amount for certain benefits such as health insurance and pension. An employee earning the prevailing wage is also entitled to overtime. The employer and the city/town could both be liable for failing to comply with the Prevailing Wage Act.
Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $10.00/hour. If your effective hourly rate is less than $10.00 you can file a claim against your employer.
Misclassification: Misclassification occurs when an employer improperly classifies their employees as independent contractors. By doing so, an employer saves money on taxes, workers’ compensation premiums, unemployment insurance and other benefits that should be made available to all employees. This could be catastrophic if an employee gets injured on the job or is terminated. Independent contractors are also exempt from most of the wage & hour laws discussed on this page (such as overtime pay, minimum wage, and unpaid wage claims). There are only extremely limited circumstances where an employee should be classified as an independent contractor. If you are an independent contractor, you are likely improperly classified.
Proper Tipping: Tip-pooling is lawful under certain circumstances, but must be done properly to ensure compliance with the law. We have experience pursuing claims where employees were forced to tip out non-tipped employees. We have also seen cases where employees were required to pay a portion of their tips to the employers. This is unlawful, and you have the right to sue your employer to make sure you collect all of the tips you earned during your shift.
Retaliation: To encourage employees to seek the compensation they are owed, and to protect them in the event a complaint about their wages is made, the law prohibits retaliation in any form. This includes any retaliation that has the effect of altering the terms and conditions of one’s employment. It also protects against termination. If an employee is terminated for making a wage & hour violation complaint, the terminated employee could ask the court to award lost wages, future lost wages, emotional distress damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Other Violations: Both the FLSA and the Massachusetts Wage Act are complex laws that prohibit many payroll practices that are routinely carried out by employers. Some employers simply do not know the law; others ignore the law. If you believe you are owed any wages, please contact us to discuss your circumstances.
Legal Resources: As a courtesy to our clients, here are some informative links to wage & hour laws and regulations:
- Unpaid Wages (G. L. c. 149, § 148)
- Prevailing Wages (G. L. c. 149, § 27)
- Minimum Wage (G. L. c. 150, § 1)
- Overtime Pay (G. L. c. 150, § 1A)
- Anti-Retaliation (G. L. c. 149, § 148A)
- Misclassification/Independent Contractor (G. L. c. 149, § 148B)
- Tip Pools (G. L. c. 149, § 152A)
- Massachusetts Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division
- United States Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division