Overtime Lawyer in Massachusetts
Employees deserve to be compensated for each hour they work. However, some employers try to cheat employees out of their hard-earned income to save money. Employers who fail to pay wages for overtime are breaking the law.
State and federal wage and hour laws protect employees from wage theft. If an employer commits wage and hour violations, the employer can be held liable for damages. The employer may also face severe penalties for violations of wage and hour laws.
Massachusetts Wage Laws and Federal Wage Laws
Employees are eligible for overtime wages under the Massachusetts Overtime Wage Act and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act unless they fall into a very narrow category of exempt workers.
According to both laws, employers must pay non-exempt employees at least one-and-a-half times their regular pay rate for hours they work beyond 40 in a workweek. However, employers are not required to pay overtime for more than eight hours worked in a single day. The overtime hours are based on the workweek instead of the day or work period.
Regardless of the clear standard for overtime pay, many employers fail to pay employees the overtime pay they earn.
Common reasons why employers fail to pay overtime include:
- Incorrectly calculating hours worked by pay period instead of the workweek
- Misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime pay or as independent contractors
- Asking an employee to work off the clock before or after shifts
- Refusing to pay overtime pay by claiming the employee did not receive permission to work overtime hours
- Asking employees to work through unpaid lunch periods and rest periods without counting those times as hours worked
- Failing to recognize that an employee may be exempt under state law but not federal law
- Failure to pay employees for “on-call” time
It is essential to check to determine if an employee is exempt from overtime pay. It is equally important to understand that some salaried workers are not exempt from overtime pay, depending on the nature of the job and the type of employer.
What Damages Can a Worker Receive for Overtime Violations?
If you were wrongfully denied your overtime pay, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages. In many cases, employees are entitled to compensation that equals three times the amount of overtime the employee should have received. Additionally, an employer may be required to pay the employee’s attorneys’ fees and costs for bringing the unpaid wages action.
Complaints about non-payment of overtime pay may be filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. An overtime lawyer can review the facts of your case and advise you of your options for seeking compensation for unpaid overtime pay.
Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me for Filing an Overtime Complaint?
Some employees do not pursue overtime complaints because they fear what their employer might do in response. However, labor laws prohibit employers from retaliating against an employee for filing a wage complaint.
Forms of prohibited employer retaliation include:
- Wrongful termination
- Creating a hostile work environment
- Demoting an employee
- Refusing to promote an employee
- Changing an employee’s pay level
- Giving employees undesirable shifts, working conditions, or assignments
- Firing an employee for filing a whistleblower complaint
Taking adverse actions against an employee for filing a wage complaint is illegal. Employees who are victims of employer retaliation may have another cause of action against their employer for damages.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Filing Overtime Claims?
In most cases, you have three years to file a lawsuit against your employer for overtime violations. The time that it takes for the Attorney General’s Office to investigate and respond to your complaint should not count toward the three-year deadline for filing lawsuits. Because you can go back three years, you could recover triple damages for all occurrences of denied overtime pay for the last three years.
However, it is always best to speak with an employment lawyer as soon as possible so that you do not take the chance of missing your deadline. If you miss the deadline to file your overtime complaint, you give up the legal right to seek compensation for the hours you worked.
What Should You Do if You Are Denied Overtime Pay?
If you believe you were not paid the overtime pay you deserve, you can discuss your case with an overtime pay lawyer. Gather as much information as possible, including pay stubs, time cards, work logs, and other information that assists the attorney in calculating the amount you should have received.
If your employer owes you overtime pay, your attorney will review the steps in filing a claim and lawsuit, any pros and cons of filing, and the timeline for filing.
For more information, call our law office at (617)-391-9001. Or if you would prefer to email us, then please visit our contact page.