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Overtime, Wage, and Hour Claims

State and federal laws contain overlapping protections to ensure that employees are paid on time for their work and get compensation for their time. Employers must generally follow both federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and state laws such as the Wage Act, the Minimum Fair Wage Law, and the Overtime Law. Employers who violate these laws can be subjected to double or triple damages, or even criminal penalties. The interplay of these laws can be complex and intricate, but they protect important rights. In addition, the law protects employees from retaliation for asserting their rights under wage and hour laws. If you believe that your employer has violated your rights, it is important to have a knowledgeable attorney assess your situation. Our Boston wage and hour lawyers are familiar with the relevant laws and can work with you and your employer to ensure that you get what you are owed.

Unpaid Wage Claims

Under the state Wage Act, employees must be paid every week or every other week, and the employer must pay all earned wages on time. That includes bonuses, commissions, and salary or hourly pay. In addition, when an employee leaves employment, the law requires the employer to promptly pay all earned wages, bonuses, commissions, and sick time. There are very few exceptions to this requirement, and an employer that withholds wages improperly can be liable for triple the unpaid amount, plus attorney’s fees – even if the employer later pays what it owes. Before bringing a Wage Act claim, an employee must file a complaint with the state Attorney General. Although the employee is protected from retaliation for filing a complaint, it is wise to seek legal advice and formulate a strategy before starting the process.

Overtime Claims

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the state Overtime Law set a seemingly simple rule: an employee who works more than 40 hours in a week must be paid time-and-a-half for the hours over 40. There are numerous exceptions to the overtime requirement. One of the most prominent ones is for managers and other administrative, executive, and professional employees. However, the state exemptions and federal exemptions are not always the same. If an employee is not exempt under both federal and state law, the employer must still pay overtime. Just because an employee gets a salary and is not paid hourly does not necessarily mean that they are exempt from overtime. If an employer should pay overtime but does not, it can be responsible for double or triple the amount of unpaid overtime pay plus legal fees. The exemptions and the calculation of overtime pay can be complicated, so good legal advice is important to make sure that employees get what they are owed.

Minimum Wage Claims

Both federal and state law provide a minimum wage that everyone must be paid in exchange for their time. Though there are some exceptions (such as for farm workers and children), in general employees must be paid at least $7.25 per hour under federal law, and $11 per hour under Massachusetts law. Employees who get paid less than this amount and are not covered by an exception may be able to sue for two or three times the difference between their actual pay and the minimum wage, plus costs and legal fees. If employees are underpaid for a long time, they can be owed a substantial amount of money.

If you believe your employer has violated state or federal wage and hour laws and need legal advice, please call one of our attorneys at (617) 742-6020 or fill out the online contact form and one of our Boston wage and hour lawyers will get back to you as soon as possible.

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