Time & Wage Disputes
“Massachusetts companies must be extra careful to comply with the Wage & Hour Act.”
At Davis & Davis, P.C., we understand how frustrating it can be on either side of a wage and hour dispute. We work quickly and efficiently to resolve wage cases to minimize the impact on both the employer and the employee. Often, a negotiated settlement benefits both parties involved when the employee’s finances may be impaired and the employer wishes to avoid the risk of treble damages which may be available through litigation.
Davis & Davis, P.C. routinely handles wage and hour disputes involving the following:
- Wage and Hour Violations
- Overtime Pay
- Salary Calculation
- Commission Calculation
- Bonus Calculation
- Employee/Independent Contractor Status
- Vacation Pay
- Wrongful Deductions
The Attorney General enforces the Massachusetts laws relating to the payment of wages to employees. (Mass. General Laws, Chapter 149, Section 148). This law provides a minimum set of standards for when, how and how much employees must be paid. To pursue a claimed violation of the wage laws, a plaintiff must obtain a private right of action from the Attorney General’s Office. The employment law group at Davis & Davis, P.C. can walk you through this process.
With regard to wage issues in Massachusetts, generally:
Employers must pay their employees within six days of the end of the pay period during which the wages were earned if the individual was employed for five or six days during the pay period. If the employee was employed for seven days or a period of less than three days, they must be paid no later than seven days from the end of the pay period.
Discharged (fired or laid off) employees must be paid all wages due and owing on the day of termination. The term “wages” includes all vacation time earned under the employer’s written or oral policy.
An employer generally may dock the pay of an employee who arrives late for work, but the employer may deduct only the amount that would have been paid during the time the employee was late.
“Governor Deval Patrick amended the Massachusetts Wage & Hour Act law, so that any company found in violation will automatically have to pay the claimant treble (damages), the claimant’s attorney’s fees, litigation costs, interest at 12% annum, and of course, their own attorney’s fees.
Even if the employee was not properly paid by an honest mistake, the law now makes it clear that unintentional violations are treated the same was as willful violations.”
All employers must furnish a pay slip or check stub showing the employer’s name, employee’s name, date, number of hours worked, hourly rate of pay and amounts of deductions or increases made for the pay period.
Most hourly and salaried employees must be paid one and one-half times their regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 in one week. Professional, executive and administrative employees are exempt from overtime, as are approximately 20 other classifications of workers. Massachusetts has an online list of overtime exemptions.
Generally, non-managerial employees working more than forty hours in any given week must be paid one and one half times their regular rate of pay. There are several exemptions to this requirement, as mentioned above. The exemptions can be found in Massachusetts General Law c. 151, s. 1A. However, the exemptions under federal law are different.
Eligible employees are to be paid time and one half their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over 40 in one week. If a pay period is bi-weekly and the employee works 60 hours during the first week and 20 in the second, the employee must be paid time and one half for the overtime hours (20) worked during the first week.
Employees who work in retail establishments on Sundays and certain holidays may be eligible to receive overtime pay. All retail employees must be paid one and one half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked on:
- New Year’s Day
- Veteran’s Day
- Columbus Day
To be eligible for overtime pay on the following days, the following criteria must be met:
Eligible retail employees who work in stores with 8 or more employees at one location must be paid one and one half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked on:
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
As a general rule, work on Sunday for employees in retail stores must be voluntary. Further, any store that employs more than seven people, including the proprietor, on any day throughout the week, shall compensate all non-exempt employees time and one half for work performed on Sunday.
Generally, companies are not required to give vacations, but if an employer agrees to provide a vacation, the company must abide by the criteria set forth by its policy. Vacations may be given at the discretion of the employer, and so it may have a policy which determines when a vacation may be taken.
Under Massachusetts law, an employer must give their employee up to 2 hours off to vote if their employee requests it. The employee does not have to use vacation time for this purpose, but does not have to be paid for this time. Employees should be allowed a two hour absence after the opening of the polls in the employee’s voting precinct.